Spanish police free Moroccan migrants held for ransom

Spanish police said Saturday they had freed two Moroccan migrants who were kidnapped as soon as they entered Spain illegally by ferry and who were being beaten and held for ransom.

Spanish police free Moroccan migrants held for ransom
The kidnapped migrants had been held in a flat in the port city of Algeciras. Photo: AFP

The two men smuggled themselves into a ferry in Tangier bound for the southern Spanish port of Algeciras in early October by clinging to the undercarriage of a freight truck that boarded the boat, police said in a statement.

As soon as they arrived in Algeciras they were approached by two other Moroccan men who lured them to an apartment in the city with the promise of food and the chance to take a bath after the trip.

The migrants were tied up and beaten and their family members received threatening phone calls demanding €4,000-5,000 ($4,400-5,500) to secure their release.

Police began their investigation after receiving a complaint from the wife of one of the kidnapped men who lives in the northern city of Lugo.

They received a tip from someone in Morocco who said two men were being held at an apartment in Algeciras and when they raided the flat they found the two kidnapped migrants.

“Both kidnapped men had suffered injuries, and one of them even told the officers that he had thought of throwing himself out the window if they were not freed by police,” the statement.

Police arrested the two suspected kidnappers, one was outside the apartment and the other inside.

Thousands of migrants tried to reach Spain from Morocco each year.

Many try to smuggle themselves across the border to Ceuta and Melilla, two tiny Spanish territories that border Morocco, hidden in cars while others cross the Mediterranean in flimsy boats or hidden on ferries.


Extremist deported after living in Spain for 30 years

Spanish authorities have deported a Moroccan Muslim activist who has lived in the country since he was ten, after accusing him of being one of the "main advocates" of the Salafist movement of ultra-conservative Islamism in Spain.

Extremist deported after living in Spain for 30 years

The 40-year-old was deported to Morocco on Saturday morning after he was held for several weeks at a deportation centre in Barcelona, a police source told AFP.

Officers arrested Mohamed Said Badaoui last month in the northeastern province of Tarragona, where he was the president of the Association for the Defence of the Rights of the Muslim Community.

A Spanish court in late October approved his deportation due to “his participation in activities contrary to national security” and “public order”.

Spanish police consider Badaoui to be “one of the main advocates in Spain of the most orthodox Salafism, which he preaches so influentially that an increase in radicalism occurred in Tarragona” since he moved there, according to its ruling.

Badaoui arrived in Spain at the age of ten from Morocco and has lived in the Catalan city of Reus for 30 years, where he has a wife and three children.

Police also accused him of “taking advantage” of the “vulnerability” of minors who arrive in Spain without their parents, “mainly of Moroccan origin”, to indoctrinate them in the “most radical Salafism,” which promotes a strictly conservative lifestyle.

Badaoui has rejected these accusations. Well-known in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia where he has lived for nearly three decades, he presents himself as an activist and anti-racism campaigner.

He has been supported by Catalonia’s main separatist parties which govern the region as well as by the regional branch of far-left party Podemos, the junior partner in Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s coalition government.