Freed Morocco Islamists say they owe release to Arab Spring

By REUTERS
February 9, 2012 20:12

 
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RABAT - The leaders of a Moroccan Islamist group, who were jailed over what campaigners say were trumped-up charges and then released last week, said on Thursday they owed their freedom to the "Arab Spring" and called for other captives to be freed.

Under pressure to reform after the upheavals last year around the Middle East, Morocco for the first time elected an Islamist-led government which has set about reversing what it said were repressive policies under the previous authorities.

In the strongest signal yet of the new approach, Morocco's King Mohammed issued pardons last week to the leaders of a group called Salafia Jihadia which officials had accused of being linked to violent Islamist militant attacks.

"We are free thanks to the Arab Spring," said one of the group's leaders, Hassan Kettani, who had been serving a 20-year jail sentence until his release last weekend.

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