King Mohammed VI on Tuesday ordered the release of 48 Spanish citizens imprisoned in Morocco in response to the request that Spain's King Juan Carlos made of him during the latter's recent visit to Rabat, the palace said.

In response to the request by the Spanish monarch and on the occasion of Throne Day, the most important annual event on the Moroccan political calendar, Mohammed VI ordered the release of the group of Spaniards, a royal spokesman said in a statement.

Juan Carlos on July 15 began an official four-day visit to Morocco during which the excellent relations between the two countries were both emphasized and clearly evident.

On the same day that the Spanish king returned to Spain, Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkiran announced that Spaniard Antonio Garcia Vidriel, an ailing 67-year-old truck driver who had been imprisoned for six years in Tangiers, would be handed over to Spain thanks to the good offices of King Juan Carlos.

More than 67,000 people had signed a letter in which Juan Carlos had been asked, on the occasion of his visit to Morocco, to request permission from the appropriate Moroccan authorities to transfer Garcia Vidriel to Spain and to release other Spanish prisoners in the North African nation.

In August 2012, there were 180 Spaniards imprisoned in Morocco, mainly for drug offenses, according to figures compiled by Spain's foreign ministry. EFE