Morocco sues activists in France over torture accusations

RABAT Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:29am EDT

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RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco has filed a lawsuit in France against activists who are suing the head of its domestic intelligence service over torture allegations, the interior ministry said.

The legal action is part of a rare French-Moroccan diplomatic dispute that prompted the North African kingdom to suspend judicial cooperation with France and to summon the French ambassador for consultations.

Tensions between Morocco and its former colonial ruler erupted last month when French police tried to question the head of Rabat's intelligence service during a visit to Paris over accusations that his agency was involved in torture.

Moroccan activists in France had filed a lawsuit accusing the intelligence service, known by its French acronym DST, of torturing them while in detention in Morocco.

The interior ministry said a counter-lawsuit has been filed against those who were trying to sue Moroccan officials over "inaccurate torture allegations". Moroccan officials say those who filed the lawsuit had been jailed for other offences.

"The interior minister denounces gross manipulation by individuals who have been convicted for fraud and international drug trafficking," the ministry said in a statement issued late on Tuesday.

The Moroccan government filed its lawsuit on Tuesday in a French court in Paris.

French President Francois Hollande spoke to the Moroccan king last month to try to calm the row between Paris and Rabat, an ally which has faced criticism from rights groups over police abuses, press freedom and judicial independence.

(Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Patrick Markey and Gareth Jones)

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