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Algeria issues arrest warrants for ex-politician, ex-intelligence officer

Algerian opponent of the Algerian government Mohamed Larbi Zitout attends a demonstration during the Peace summit on Libya at the Chancellery in Berlin on January 19, 2020 [JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images]
Algerian opponent of the Algerian government Mohamed Larbi Zitout attends a demonstration during the Peace summit on Libya at the Chancellery in Berlin on January 19, 2020 [JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images]

A court in Algiers on Sunday issued international arrest warrants against four activists based abroad on charges of joining a terrorist group.

They were issued against former diplomat residing in the United Kingdom, Mohamed Larbi Zitout, blogger Amir Boukhors, known as Amir DZ, journalist and former intelligence officer Hisham Abboud, and Mohamed Abdullah.

Authorities said 57-year-old Zitout participated in establishing the Islamic Rashad movement, which was later banned in Algeria, and became one of its main leaders. He worked at the Algerian Embassy in Libya in 1991 and then settled in London in 1995 after resigning from his position.

According to the authorities, the Rashad group includes former activists in the Islamic Salvation Front, which was disbanded in March 1992. This movement is accused of seeking to infiltrate the pro-democracy Hirak movement that began in February 2019 as well as calling for a radical change in the political system.

A prosecution statement published by the Algeria Press Service stated that Zitout is facing charges of leading and financing a terrorist group that undertakes acts targeting state security and national unity, in addition to participating in forgery activities and using forged materials in issuing administrative documentation and money laundering within the framework of a criminal group.

READ: International calls for investigation into violence against journalists in Algeria

The statement added that Abboud, Boukhors, and Abdullah are being pursued for joining and financing a terrorist group that undertakes acts targeting state security and national unity, in addition to engaging in money laundering activities within the framework of a criminal gang, which was not named.

Amir DZ, who is based in France, publishes videos that are particularly hostile to the Algerian authorities.

As for Abboud, he introduces himself as a former member of Algerian intelligence. He fled the country in 2013 after being handed a travel ban. He made his way through Tunisia and now lives in France. Last February, he was sentenced in absentia to seven years in prison.

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