Page last updated at 20:57 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Saharan activist 'facing court'

Aminatou Haidar on Hunger strike in Lanzarote
Aminatou Haidar's supporters say the hunger strike has left her weak

A Western Sahara activist on hunger strike in Spain's Canary Islands has been told to appear in court on public order charges, her supporters say.

Aminatou Haidar has been refusing food at Lanzarote's airport since Sunday after being expelled by Morocco from the disputed territory.

She is protesting at Spain's refusal to let her return to Western Sahara.

Morocco controls most of the Western Sahara but Algerian-based separatists want a vote on independence.

Ms Haidar was held by Moroccan authorities on Friday when she arrived in Western Sahara's main city, Laayoune - where she lives - on a flight from the Canary Islands.

She was then sent back to the islands without her Moroccan passport.

She has accused Spain of holding her against her will by not letting her return to Western Sahara, but Spanish officials says she cannot leave without a passport.

They say she was allowed into Spain because she has a Spanish residency permit.

On Monday, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos urged her to be calm while Spain tried to resolve the issue.

'Complaint made'

But Hamudi Isemo Mussa, a spokesman for the group Western Sahara in the Canaries, said airport management firm Aena had made a complaint against her, citing public order offences.

She was due to appear on Wednesday at a court in Arrecife, the capital of Lanzarote, he said.

Aena officials told the Spanish news agency Efe that the complaint had been against "a group of people", rather than one particular person.

Hamudi Isemo Mussa said Ms Haidar hoped to board a flight to Laayoune on Saturday, even though she does not have a passport.

Her supporters say the hunger strike has left her in a weak condition.

Last year, Ms Haidar won the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award.

She also recently received the Train Foundation's Civil Courage Prize in New York for her "courageous campaign" for self-determination of Western Sahara.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975, but the Algerian-based Polisario Front wants a referendum with full independence as one of the options.

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