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Published: Friday June 20, 2014 MYT 7:25:03 AM
Updated: Friday June 20, 2014 MYT 7:25:03 AM

Morocco summons French ambassador over activist's visit to general in Paris hospital

RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco summoned on Thursday the French ambassador to Rabat and protested a Moroccan activist's attempted vist to an ailing general in a Paris hospital and letter accusing him of corruption and responsibility for thousands of deaths.

French ambassador in Rabat Charles Fries was received by Mohamed Yassine Mansouri, the head of the counter-intelligence service, a statement carried by the state news agency MAP said.

General Abdelaziz Bennani, the former No. 2 in the Moroccan army, is hospitalized at Paris' Val-de-Grace hospital.

Former Army Captain Mustapha Adib, now an opponent of Morocco's king, went to the hospital on Wednesday and left a letter to Bennani, Adib said in a posting on his Facebook page, calling the general "a criminal."

In his meeting with the French ambassador, Mansouri expressed "the strong dissatisfaction of the kingdom as a result of the coward moral aggression suffered the day before by General Abdelaziz Bennani in his room at the Paris hospital."

This was the latest incident that has deepened a diplomatic row between Rabat and its former colonial ruler. The Moroccan statement said it could further complicate relations with France.

Adib, who was removed from the army and spent more than two years in jail in the early 2000s after he sent a letter to the king denouncing corruption in the Moroccan army, also called the king a "dictator" in his letter to Bennani.

"Members of the Moroccan group against dictatorship in Morocco visited the criminal Abdelaziz Bennani in Val-De-Grace hospital and left cheap flowers and a letter to him," Adib said in a Facebook posting.

"… You killed thousands of innocents… You have stolen Moroccan resources," he said in the letter to Bennani according to his Facebook posting.

Morocco's ambassador in Paris lodged a protest with the French Foreign Affairs Ministry to denounce the incident.

The French ministry could not be reached for a comment, but the Moroccan statement said French authorities would conduct an inquiry.

Ties between the two countries are already tense over a row that erupted in February when French police tried to question the head of Rabat's intelligence service during a visit to Paris over accusations his agency was involved in torture.

The dispute prompted Morocco to suspend judicial cooperation with France and to summon the French ambassador.

(The story was corrected in the first paragraph to clarify description of deaths)

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