Algeria: a former soldier who participated in Hirak arrested in Spain

Former corporal Mohamed Benhalima, who took part in the Hirak movement in Algeria, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “publishing false information”.

(illustrative image) REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

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A former Algerian soldier was arrested in Spain on Monday March 14.

He is likely to be deported soon.

Mohamed Benhalima had fled Algeria in September 2019. He had participated in Hirak, this protest movement born in February 2019 and which resulted in the departure of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika two months later, after twenty years in power.

He was sentenced in Algeria last year.

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Mohamed Benhalima left Algeria in September 2019. According to Amnesty International, he learned that his name was on a list of soldiers wanted for having participated in the Hirak.

The 32-year-old former corporal arrives in Spain.

He has since applied for asylum there, as well as in France.

A year ago, Mohamed Benhalima was tried in absentia in Algeria.

He was sentenced to ten years in prison for “ 

publishing false information

 ”.

Algeria issues an international arrest warrant.

The former soldier was arrested in Spain, in Zaragoza, last Monday, according to his lawyer.

The latter specifies that he is now facing deportation proceedings.

Procedure that the police motivated, according to him, by accusations " 

of activities contrary to national security or which could compromise Spain's relations with other countries 

".

The Spanish authorities would accuse him in particular of alleged links with the Rachad movement, classified as terrorist by the Algerian authorities since last May.

Amnesty International describes him as a whistleblower who denounced corruption in the Algerian army, and called on Spain to drop his expulsion.

Less than a year ago, in a similar case, Spain handed over a former military deserter to the Algerian authorities.

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