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Exiled leader arrested in Spain over arms trafficking

  • Story Highlights
  • Spanish police arrest exiled Equatorial Guinea opposition leader Severo Moto
  • Court spokesman says Moto arrested over guns found in car at port
  • Moto had been granted refugee status after a series of court appeals
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By Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman
For CNN
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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Spanish police have arrested Equatorial Guinea opposition leader Severo Moto on suspicion of links to arms trafficking, a National Court spokeswoman told CNN on Tuesday.

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Exiled Equatorial Guinea opposition leader Severo Moto was granted refugee status in Spain.

Moto, 64, has been living in exile in Spain, the former colonial power in Equatorial Guinea.

He was arrested in Toledo province, south of Madrid, for alleged links to weapons found in a car in the port of Sagunto, in southeastern Spain. The car was allegedly to be shipped to Equatorial Guinea, said the court spokeswoman, who asked not to be identified.

Moto is due to appear before a judge at the National Court, probably on Wednesday, the spokeswoman said.

Last month, Spain's Supreme Court upheld a request to grant political refugee status to Moto.

He had enjoyed refugee status since the Spanish government granted it in 1986. But the government revoked the status in January 2006, leading Moto to launch a series of appeals which ultimately took him to the Supreme Court.

The U.S. State Department says courts in Equatorial Guinea have convicted Moto several times in absentia for attempting to overthrow the government.

He leads a banned opposition party called the Progress Party of Equatorial Guinea, according to Amnesty International, which has monitored his trials at home and has called them unfair. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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