Algeria recalls ambassador to France after 'smuggling' of journalist

Algerian presidency accuses French diplomats and security personnel of mediating 'a secret and illegal eviction' of an Algerian citizen

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, right, with French President Emmanuel Macron in August, 2022.  Reuters
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Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune ordered Algeria’s ambassador to France, Said Moussa, to return to Algiers for consultation, according to a statement published by the Algerian Presidency on Wednesday.

The Algerian government's statement was triggered by France's alleged provision of assistance for a dual citizen, the Franco-Algerian journalist and human rights activist Amira Bouraoui. Algeria said French diplomats had facilitated her escape via Tunis.

Bouraoui, 46, has been known since her participation in the Barakat movement in 2014, when she led a campaign opposing the now deceased president Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his attempt to run for a fourth term as president of Algeria.

She was imprisoned in 2020 on several charges, and then released in July the same year.

Bouraoui tried to leave Algeria several times in recent months, but was prevented by authorities every time.

She fled to Tunis on Tuesday night and was planning to join her son, who lives in Lyon, in the south of France.

"Algeria denounces the secret and illegal eviction of an Algerian national whose presence on the national soil is considered necessary by a decision of the Algerian judiciary," the Algerian presidency said, describing the reason for recalling its ambassador.

In Tunis, Bouraoui was initially placed in airport custody and prevented from travelling, however, after seeking asylum for a few hours at the French embassy, she was allowed to travel to Lyon.

Algerian authorities accused French diplomats and security personnel at the French embassy in Tunis of “secretly and illegally smuggling” Bouraoui, despite the existence of an Algerian court subpoena against her.

French newspaper Le Monde reported that the journalist was able to travel after receiving a special permit from Tunisian President Kais Saied.

Algerian media, meanwhile, is reporting that the government's decision came after they were pressured by the French ambassador in Tunis and a colonel in French intelligence.

Algerian newspaper Al Mujahid criticised the French move and said that it would cause diplomatic relations between the two countries to deteriorate.

Bouraoui has been also accused of “impostering being a journalist” and using it as a pretext to flee prosecution for criminal charges not related to her alleged line of work.

“There is no connection between Amira Bouraoui and the profession of journalism, and the claim that she is a journalist is a lie," Algerian Minister of Communication Mohamed Bouslimani told state news agency APS.

Updated: February 09, 2023, 3:30 PM