Published18 hours ago
Amira Bouraoui, a key leader of 2019 mass protests that brought down Algeria’s president, has escaped to France, sparking a diplomatic row.
A doctor by training, the journalist and activist was banned from leaving Algeria pending an appeal trial but was not in detention.
The holder of a French passport, she allegedly illegally went to Tunisia and then on to France with diplomatic help.
Algeria has recalled its ambassador to Paris over the affair.
The Algerian foreign ministry accused French diplomats and other personnel of participating “in the illegal and secret evacuation of an Algerian national”.
It said the incident was unacceptable and caused great damage to relations between Algeria and France, which had been warming recently after decades of animosity.
Bouraoui had been sentenced in 2021 to two years in jail for “offending Islam” and insulting the president, but was appealing against the ruling. She had spent 11 days in jail when the case was first in court.
Earlier this week, she was arrested in Tunisia when she tried to take a flight and faced an extradition hearing where a judge freed her.
Later she was able to board a plane to France, where is it reported she wanted to go to visit her son.
Neither the French nor Tunisian governments have commented on the matter.
Algeria gained independence from France in 1962 after a bloody seven-year war, which ended more than a century of a colonial rule.
Relations had partly improved because France is looking for new suppliers of gas as European countries are boycotting Russia.
Bouraoui was one of the key leaders of the anti-government Hirak movement, which led to long-time leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigning in 2019.
Her father Mohamed Saleh Bouraoui was a well-known cardiologist and former high-ranking army officer, who once headed a military hospital in the capital, Algiers.
After Mr Bouteflika’s departure, protests continued against the military elite, which critics believe wields a lot of power in the North African nation.
In the last few years, the Algerian authorities have further clamped down on freedom of expression, blocking websites and detaining journalists.
The radio station on which Bouraoui used to host a weekly show, Radio M, was banned last year.