Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Friday, 30 December 2005

Spain blow to E Guinea dissident

Severo Moto
Moto leads a self-proclaimed government-in-exile in Madrid

Spain has withdrawn political asylum from Equatorial Guinea opposition leader Severo Moto.

The Spanish government said he had proven involvement in coup attempts in his home country, a former colony.

Mr Moto denies any links to coups and says he will lodge an appeal against the withdrawal of his asylum status.

Mr Moto has lived in Spain since the 1980s. He leads a self-proclaimed government-in-exile in Madrid, in opposition to President Teodoro Obiang.

Jail sentence

Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said the move had been considered since June.

"Nobody has sufficient reason to accuse me of [plotting coups]," Mr Moto told the AFP news agency.

Mr Obiang accuses Mr Moto of sponsoring a failed coup plot last year and ministers have also claimed Spain was involved - claims denied in Madrid.

Last November, a court in Equatorial Guinea sentenced 19 people, including Mr Moto, to jail over the coup plot.

Mr Moto was sentenced to 63 years in prison.

Earlier this year, Spain rejected an Equatorial Guinea request to extradite Mr Moto, saying he would not get a fair trial.

Other alleged mercenaries are in prison in Zimbabwe, while Sir Mark Thatcher, son of the former UK prime minister, has pleaded guilty to unknowingly helping to finance the plot to seize power in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.

In April, Mr Moto went missing from Spain, before he reappeared in Croatia.

He accused Equatorial Guinea and Spain of colluding to have him killed - an accusation both countries deny.

It is not clear if Mr Moto will have to leave Spain.

Equatorial Guinea is Africa's third largest oil producer.

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