Land grabbing, insider trading, suspicions in the king's entourage... In Morocco, the forbidden investigation of Omar Radi

Montage with the following documents: promotional video of the inauguration of the golf course in May 2017 and the Prestigia Nations Beach project;  Anas Sefrioui, CEO of Addoha Group;  the act of requisition revealing the subterfuge that allowed Addoha to get their hands on the lands of Ouled Sbita;  Saida, torchbearer of the fight against the real estate giant Addoha, in May 2017.

The recording dates from December 22, 2019. On Radio M, Ihsane El Kadi, director of this independent Algerian media, receives Omar Radi, a Moroccan colleague accustomed to investigate the links between power and business in Morocco. This one evokes his investigations in the douar Ouled Sbita, within the Sidi Bouknadel commune, near Rabat: " [Les habitants] were kicked out of their farmland where there was a forest. The forest [a été] razed, we put a golf course in its place and we privatized the beach (…). We have put hundreds of villas and luxury apartments. We are in a logic of land predation. » For this journalist known for his outspokenness, trouble begins...

Back in Morocco, the police summon him. He is placed in detention, on the pretext of a tweet hostile to a judge. After a week and a massive campaign of support, he is provisionally released. “I was punished for all of my work”, he says then. And it's not over… In June 2020, Amnesty International and the organization Forbidden Stories reveal that his phone has been infected with Pegasus spyware. More serious: on March 3, 2022, he was sentenced on appeal to six years in prison for "undermining the internal security of the State" with "foreign financing" and for "rape" - two separate files, yet instructed and judged jointly.

Read also: Morocco: Journalist Omar Radi sentenced on appeal to six years in prison

In the first case, an ex-colleague of the newspaper The Desk accuses him of having raped her, in July 2020. He disputes the facts, speaking of a consensual relationship. In the other case, he is accused in particular of having met Dutch officials considered by the prosecution to be "intelligence officers". The NGO Human Rights Watch then protested against his conviction. “The espionage charges were inadmissible because based on nothing, said one of the organization's executives for the Middle East and North Africa, Ahmed Benchemsi. As for the accusation of rape, it would have deserved a fair trial, both for the accused and for the complainant. » In fact, several NGOs and journalistic investigations denounce the instrumentalization by the Moroccan authorities of the fight against sexual violence for political ends. Omar Radi, who has already spent two years in prison, has appealed.

Addoha's Subterfuge

Are his troubles related to his work on expropriations? Forbidden stories continued the investigation into Douar Ouled Sbita, this seaside site where a property developer, the Addoha group, took it into his head, in the fall of 2006, to develop a project called "Plage des nations ". A resident of the village, Mohamed Boudouma, mentioned on France 24in February 2017, behind the scenes of the operation: “Our tribe was approached by state officials who wanted [en] buy the coastal portions. Delegates, whom we did not choose, negotiated on our behalf with the Ministry of the Interior, which owns these lands, according to a law inherited from the colonial era. We only have the right to use it. These delegates tricked us by saying that these lands along the coast would be sold to the king. In reality, they were sold to the Addoha company. »

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