The Casablanca Court of Appeals kicked off investigations with journalist Omar Radi who is accused of undermining state security, receiving foreign funding, and rape.
The list of charges against Radi, 34, may carry a sentence of more than 10 years in prison.
In June, Amnesty International claimed that the Moroccan government had spied on Radi through his phone using sophisticated surveillance software. The spyware is produced by Israeli company NSO Group.
However, the government dismissed the claims as “baseless” and called on Amnesty to provide evidence.
The Public Prosecution of Casablanca Court of Appeal has submitted a petition to investigate with the journalist on suspicion of “harming state internal security by receiving remuneration from a foreign entity for an activity or propaganda that could shake the loyalty that citizens owe to the state and the institutions of the Moroccan people.”
Radi is also on trial for rape charges, which are based on a complaint filed on July 23 by a woman who works at the same news website as him.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement Tuesday saying that the espionage case involves “both journalistic work and research he conducted on contract for foreign-based clients,” adding that the rape charge stems from an encounter that he called consensual.
Amnesty International launched an international campaign to demand the release of Radi, but the Supreme Council of the Judiciary (CSPJ), responded to the organization's campaign by saying that it carries “fallacies affecting the independence of the judiciary and gives the impression of government control over it.”
The Council considered that Amnesty ignores the fact that the judiciary in Morocco is independent of the government, and that no one has the right to interfere in judges’ decisions.
CSPJ indicated that the ongoing investigation against Radi has nothing to do with his journalistic work, but rather with the rape charges, and violation of the country’s integrity by contacting agents of a foreign authority to harm the diplomatic situation of Morocco.
In March, the Casablanca court sentenced Radi to a suspended sentence of four-month in prison for "harming the judiciary" after he criticized the judgments issued against Hirak activists.