- Morocco has expelled a Swedish diplomat, accused of delivering Moroccan state documents to "separatists" from Western Sahara. This comes as a Sahrawi political prisoner in Morocco is awarded a prestigious Swedish prize.
According to a statement from the Rabat Foreign Ministry today, Foreign Minister Taïb Fassi Fihri called the Swedish Ambassador to Morocco, Michael Odevald, to his office today to protest at what he called an "unacceptable, professional mistake."
Minister Fihri claimed the Swedish Embassy had committed a "serious breach of the diplomatic practices" by transmitting "an official document" to Polisario officials. Polisario is the ruling party of the exiled Western Sahara government, technically at war with Morocco.
The Moroccan Foreign Minister underlined that "handing this document to the separatists infringes the ethics and rules of diplomatic professionalism, which require that the contents of exchanged documents be sent exclusively to the governmental authorities of the represented countries."
"They can, by no means, be used against the interests of the country of accreditation," the Minister's statement added. "For all these considerations, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation has informed the ambassador of Sweden in Rabat that the Moroccan authorities demand the immediate departure of Mrs Anna Block-Mazoyer," it concluded.
The expulsion of the Swedish diplomat comes as public opinion and political parties in Sweden are becoming increasingly sceptical towards the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. This weekend, Sweden's main opposition party decided it would recognise Western Sahara as an independent state if winning the 2010 elections.
At the same time, the prestigious Swedish Per Anger Human Rights Award this week was awarded to the Sahrawi human rights defender Brahim Dahane for "having fought in the conflict over Western Sahara between Morocco and Polisario with endurance, peaceful means and personal courage and with risk for his own life in the fight for human rights."
Of special anger for the Moroccans, the award was instituted by the Swedish government and has always been honoured with government participation. Also this year. The Swedish Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth has said yes to present the award and the prize money of krona 150,000 (euro 15,000).
The award winner, Mr Dahane, is currently imprisoned in Morocco and will not be able to pick up the prize. Mr Dahane is considered a political prisoner, also by Swedish government officials.
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