Foreign interference fears after Sydney University cancels Western Sahara speaker | World news | The Guardian

Foreign interference fears after Sydney University cancels Western Sahara speaker | World news | The Guardian

Human rights advocates warn of ‘dangerous precedent’ as sold-out event featuring Tecber Ahmed Saleh cancelled after Moroccan embassy expresses concern

The cancellation of a speech by a Western Saharan human rights advocate at the University of Sydney has reanimated concerns over foreign interference on Australian campuses.

The university has insisted the sold-out event featuring Sahrawi advocate Tecber Ahmed Saleh, scheduled for Wednesday, was cancelled only because it was too similar to a previous address she made on campus earlier this month.

But Western Sahara advocates say the two events were different, and they believe Saleh’s speech was cancelled after the embassy of Morocco wrote to the university raising concerns about her being hosted.

Guardian Australia has confirmed the Moroccan embassy made representations to the Sydney Law School over its concerns about her speech at the school.

A former Spanish protectorate, Western Sahara is a disputed territory on the north-west coast of Africa, partly controlled by the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) but largely occupied by Morocco. Morocco’s claims to the territory are largely unrecognised internationally: Western Sahara remains on the UN’s decolonisation list of non-self-governing territories.