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Tunisia: Algerian activist apologises for deportation crisis

February 13, 2023 at 11:29 am

Amira Bouraoui, a rights activist detained during the 2019 mass protests in Algeria and freed from prison in 2020 [lebrief]

Algerian opposition activist Amira Bouraoui has apologised to Tunisia for causing a crisis with Algiers after she crossed into the country illegally en route to France, Al-Quds Al-Arabi has reported. Bouraoui was detained and threatened with deportation back to Algeria before French consular officials intervened. She arrived in France last week.

“I crossed the Tunisian border from Algeria illegally, and I apologise to the Tunisian state because I should not have done this and caused Tunisia, which I love, great embarrassment, but I had no other option,” Bouraoui told Tunisia’s Mosaique FM radio station. “When I arrived illegally on Tunisian soil, I was arrested for three days, before the Tunisian judge released me and handed me my French passport, as I did not have an Algerian passport. When I left the court, I was arrested again by two people who took my passport and handed me over to the border police.”

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She explained that the French officials got involved because of her French citizenship and they believed that her life was threatened. “The sad aspect is that my Algerian nationality pushed some to call for me to be imprisoned because I am an opposition activist. My French nationality saved me.”

Bouraoui added that if she had known that her journey would cause a diplomatic crisis between Algeria and both France and Tunisia, she would have left the country by sea on illegal migration boats.

Algeria summoned its ambassador to France in protest at the pressure exerted by Paris on Tunisia’s President Kais Saied to permit Bouraoui to travel and cancel the decision to hand her over to Algeria. The decision was also criticised by Tunisian opposition groups. Border officials in Algeria have since harassed Tunisian travellers returning to their country.

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