Morocco releases ex-officer jailed over state secrets

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Morocco on Wednesday pardoned and released a 73-year-old former military officer whose sentencing to 12 years in prison for divulging state secrets had been condemned by rights groups.

Kaddour Terhzaz's family and a source close to the government confirmed that the former air force colonel, who also has French citizenship, had been pardoned by King Mohammed VI.

"He has just been freed, it was a royal pardon," his daughter Sonia told AFP.

"He was pardoned by the king at the request of his family," said a source close to the government.

Terhzaz was convicted in 2008 in connection with a letter he wrote to the king deploring the lack of anti-missile defences on Moroccan planes during the country's conflict with the Polisario Front over the Western Sahara region in the 1970s.

European lawmakers and rights groups including Human Rights Watch had called for his release, with HRW last year condemning "the severity of the sentence and the harsh conditions of Terhzaz's incarceration."

© 2011 AFP

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