FILE: Spanish journalist Helena Maleno after receiving the ''Guernica Award for the Peace and Reconciliation'' in Guernica, Spain on April 26, 2018 | Photo: Picture-alliance/AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos
FILE: Spanish journalist Helena Maleno after receiving the ''Guernica Award for the Peace and Reconciliation'' in Guernica, Spain on April 26, 2018 | Photo: Picture-alliance/AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos

Moroccan authorities have dropped a case against Spanish journalist and human rights defender Helena Maleno Garzon. Maleno works for the NGO Walking Borders which alerts Spanish and Moroccan rescue authorities to migrant boats in distress at sea.

The Spanish activist said on Monday that she had received confirmation of the decision of an appeals court in Tangier, where she is based, to abandon proceedings against her.

Maleno had been under investigation in Morocco since 2017 for alleged collusion in human trafficking offences. A similar case in Spain, begun in 2012, was dismissed.

She said the Moroccan court's decision set a precedent for her struggle to save lives at sea. "(The) fact that this case was dropped sets an example for us to continue our work," she said from Tangier.

"I always had faith in the Moroccan justice system because I always believed in my innocence," she added.

Maleno has received prizes and commendations for her work in alerting maritime rescue services to the presence of migrants crossing the Mediterranean. Earlier this year, the Spanish government said 70 percent of warning calls to the authorities had come from Maleno.

The coastguard for the southern Spanish region of Almeria said last year that Maleno had helped rescue tens of thousands of people.  

The cases brought against Maleno in Spain and Morocco have prompted an outpouring of support from rights groups, politicians and celebrities including the actor Javier Bardem. 

 

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