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'Qatargate', human rights, 'Pegasus case': Morocco denies everything


The Parliament becomes the spearhead of the response of the Maghreb State to the sentence of the European Parliament, the first approved in two decades

The Moroccan Parliament, an institution that usually remains in the background, has become the spearhead of the State against the criticism that comes from the European Parliament after the outbreak of Qatargate, in which Rabat has also been



The Parliament of Strasbourg approved last month a vote condemning the Maghreb country for the deterioration of human rights -focused on press freedom, with several journalists imprisoned- and its alleged involvement in the Qatari corruption plot.

The MEPs also demanded that spying on informers be stopped through the controversial Israeli-made Pegasus program.

Morocco denies everything.

In an unusual session, the seat of the legislative power in Rabat was the scene last week of a conference in which parliamentarians, jurists, experts and computer experts rejected the accusations coming from Europe.

"Our country is suffering from hostile actions in the European Parliament that have forced us to review relations," warned the president of the House of Representatives, Rachid Taibi el Alami, referring to the resolution adopted on January 23 together with the House of Councilors. .

"That campaign is now continuing with longstanding allegations of spying on foreign leaders," he said, referring to the Pegasus system.

With this Trojan program, a cell phone belonging to the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, was infected.

The phone of the head of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, also suffered intrusions from Pegasus in 2021.

"There is no evidence, no technical element to support the fanciful accusations made against Morocco," stressed Olivier Baratelli, a French lawyer hired by the Rabat government to lead its defense team before the Paris courts, in a videotaped speech.

"You have to be very prudent with the Amnesty International report [in which the alleged Moroccan involvement in mobile phone espionage was revealed]," also warned David Zenaty, an expert accredited to the International Criminal Court and a computer expert on behalf of the the lawyer Baratelli before the Court of Cassation of Paris.

His forensic opinion states that Pegasus “uses a special technique to mask the origin of the server, like in the dark internet (...

The Forbidden Stories consortium of journalists and the NGO Amnesty International revealed in 2021 that 50,000 phone numbers had been identified as targets since 2016 by NSO customers who purchased the Pegasus system, including the States of Morocco, Mexico, Hungary, India or Saudi Arabia.

According to these revelations, one of them is the Moroccan journalist Omar Radi, sentenced to six years in prison on charges of espionage and attacking State security, in addition to raping an editor of his media outlet.

The Spanish journalist Ignacio Cembrero, a veteran specialist in the Maghreb, was also mentioned.

The Moroccan Foreign Minister, Naser Burita, denounced last month in Rabat in the presence of the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, the "judicial and media harassment" suffered by his country by "people and structures annoyed by the reinforcement of the [international] leadership of Morocco”.

Burita himself has explained the response raised by his government: "Anyone who makes accusations against Morocco must present evidence or take a complaint for slander before the courts."

In addition to suing Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories, Rabat has sued a dozen French media for defamation, such as

Le Monde, L'Humanité

, Radio France or the

Mediapart digital portal.


A month ago, the journalist Cembrero, whose name was mentioned during the parliamentary conference held in Rabat, had to appear before a court in Madrid to face a civil lawsuit filed by Morocco.

In the room of the Constitutional Commission of the Moroccan Parliament, almost everything was discussed.

From Western Sahara, from the constitutional reform of 2011, from human rights, from espionage and computer breaches, from "diabolical twin" telephone towers (to infect mobile phones), from data protection, from gender equality, from freedom of expression ... But, above all, the debate served to deny the majority in the face of all the arguments against it.

The warning message has become a mantra: Morocco has changed.

Members of the two Moroccan chambers, during the joint session held on January 23 in Rabat.

- (AFP)

Foreign Minister Burita is busy reminding diplomatic visitors: "Morocco has strengthened its international deployment and has diversified its alliances."

He was referring to the growing Moroccan political and economic projection in Africa, to the normalization of relations with Israel (culminating in a military cooperation agreement), to the recognition by the United States of sovereignty over Western Sahara and to the recent favorable turn over the Sahara. to their interests given by European countries such as Germany and Spain.

France, whose hand Rabat believes to see after the condemnation vote in the European Parliament, begins to suffer the consequences of the disagreement.

The planned official visit of President Macron in the first months of this year has been postponed without a specific date.

The official bulletin of Morocco has just published the dismissal of Mohamed Benchaabun as ambassador in Paris after being appointed by King Mohamed VI to a high position four months ago, in a decision that effectively leaves the head of the diplomatic legation in the city vacant. which was the colonial metropolis.

The spokesman for the socialist group in the House of Representatives, Abderrahim Chaid, directed his invective precisely at the "colonial language of MEPs" which, as he stressed in his speech at the Rabat conference, emanates with an "air of superiority" from the Eurochamber.

The resolution of the Strasbourg hemicycle —adopted by 356 votes in favor, 32 against (including those of 17 Spanish Socialists) and 42 abstentions—, expressed European concern “over suspicions that Moroccan officials had tried to bribe MEPs” and vetoed the presence of representatives of the Maghrebi country at the headquarters of the European Legislature, as was agreed with the Qatari representatives.

Overwhelming majority in response to the European Parliament

The unanimity is overwhelming in Parliament in the response to the Eurochamber.

Both Moroccan Chambers have created a special commission to “re-evaluate relations with the European Parliament”.

Hardly any voices have been heard in the Rabat seats in defense of critical journalists and dissident activists detained in Morocco.

MEPs had also questioned the "misuse" of sexual assault allegations to prosecute informants.

A coordinator of Moroccan organizations, the National Instance of Support for Detainees of Opinion and Victims of the Violation of Freedom of Expression, has demanded the release of people arrested "arbitrarily".

Among them are journalists Omar Radi (sentenced for espionage and rape to six years in prison), Tofik Buachrin (15 years) and Suleiman Raisuni (five years).

It also includes Naser Zefzafi, the leader of the social riots that broke out in the Rif (northern Morocco) in 2017, sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The former Moroccan minister and opposition politician Mohamed Ziane, 80 years old and who also has Spanish nationality, has been imprisoned since last November after being sentenced to three years in prison.

Former president of the Bar Association of the Moroccan capital and defense lawyer for some of the aforementioned prisoners, he was accused of 11 charges, such as insulting institutions and adultery.

Last September, Ziane released a video on social networks in which he criticized "the absence of Mohamed VI" from Morocco - the sovereign spends prolonged periods of time abroad - for allegedly ignoring the affairs of the kingdom, and proposing the abdication of the Alaouite monarch in favor of his son, Crown Prince Mulay Hassan.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-02-16

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