Algeria arrests four over dissident who fled to France

AFP , Wednesday 22 Feb 2023

Algerian authorities have placed four people in pre-trial detention over the "illegal" departure of wanted French-Algerian activist Amira Bouraoui, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Protests in Algeria
Women carry banners as they march during a protest marking International Women s Day in Algiers, Algeria March 8, 2021.


A prisoners' rights group said Bouraoui's 71-year-old mother had also been detained but later released under judicial supervision.

Bouraoui, 46, a doctor, was arrested on February 3 in Tunisia and faced deportation to neighbouring Algeria, but flew to France on February 6.

Algeria accused France of assisting her "clandestine and illegal exfiltration" via Tunisia, sparking a diplomatic row between Algiers and its former colonial ruler.

Algerian prosecutors said Tuesday she had left "illegally" with the "help of a criminal network" including a taxi driver, a journalist, a border guard and relatives.

A prominent figure in a 2014 protest movement against then-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid for a fourth term in office, Bouraoui was also involved in the Hirak protest movement which unseated him in 2019.

She was sentenced in June 2020 to two years in prison before being granted provisional release the following month, but banned from leaving Algeria.

On Sunday, five detainees were brought before the public prosecutor's office, where they faced charges including "illegal immigration by an organised criminal network", the prosecution said.

The CNLD prisoners' rights group said they include journalist Mustapha Bendjama, Bouraoui's cousin Yacine Bentayeb and Raouf Farrah, an analyst from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC).

The rights group said Bouraoui's mother was among them but later released.

Algeria and France had gone through a diplomatic crisis in late 2021 but had started to mend fences with a high-profile visit by President Emmanuel Macron last August.

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