Brahim Ghali, the leader of a movement fighting for independence from Morocco, found himself at the center of a diplomatic row as he flew out of Spain to Algeria.
He arrived in Algeria post-midnight after which he was taken to a military hospital.
Ghali remained in a hospital in northern Spain after more than six weeks of treatment as he contracted COVID-19.
Spain has been a diplomatic partner of Morocco and it had secretly allowed Ghali to enter the country, Morocco considers Ghali, 71, a terrorist.
Ghali flew out of the Pamplona airport.
Recently, Spanish authorities began to complain about Ghali’s presence in the country. “It doesn’t make sense that he keeps on staying in Spain,” said Spain’s Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos, in an interview with the 24h TV channel. He said Ghali entered Spain on humanitarian grounds and he no longer needed that aid.
After Ghali reached Algeria, he was rushed to the Ain Naadja military hospital, where he received a visit from the Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and chief of the army staff.
Algerian state television was flooded with images of the visit, with Ghali wearing an oxygen mask.
Algeria backs the Polisario Front that is fighting for the independence of Western Sahara. It was a Spanish colony till the mid-1970s and is claimed by Morocco.
Brahim’s admittance to a hospital, first in the northern Spanish city of Logrono and now Algeria, has infuriated Morocco.
In a somewhat retaliatory move, Morocco a sudden influx of migrants to the Spanish enclave of Cueta after it first appeared not to do so.
Spain’s High Court, on Tuesday, turned down a plea for Ghali to be taken into custody. The court said the plaintiffs in the war crimes case against him did not provide evidence that substantiated that he had committed any of the crimes.
Moroccan authorities had been told about Ghali’s departure. the Spanish diplomatic source said. The Algerian government was not immediately available for comment.