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Algeria issues an int'l arrest warrant for human rights activist Zaki Hannache

A police car leaves the courthouse [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP Getty Images]
A police car leaves the courthouse [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP Getty Images]

Algeria's Sidi Mohamed Court has convicted human rights activist Zakaria, known as Zaki Hannache, to three years in prison and issued an international arrest warrant issued against him because he is currently hiding out in Tunisia.

Hannache conveyed the news of his conviction on Facebook, and has previously stated that he was threatened with deportation at any moment to Algeria if he is arrested. Le Monde newspaper reported that lives incognito in Tunisia for fear of prosecution by security services there.

Hannache, whose name has appeared as a reference in the news of the arrests and trials of Hirak activists, has been granted refugee status by the UN High Commissioner for refugees, but is still waiting to be transferred to a European country.

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"In order to protect myself and avoid enforced disappearance, I had to apply for asylum and present myself to the Algerian authorities, where I am being pursued for terrorism and threatened with other judicial proceedings," Hannache said in a previous blog post. "After an in-depth study of my file and my status and the judicial follow-up against me by the Algerian authorities, the High Commissioner decided to grant me refugee status, moreover, the High Commissioner confirmed that I am neither a terrorist nor a criminal as claimed by the Algerian authorities," he added.

Hannache's case in Tunisia has received widespread support from human rights organisations, with Amnesty International and ten other bodies saying his forcible return to Algeria would set a dangerous precedent for human rights.

The organisations expressed their deep concern about the risk of forcible return of the Algerian asylum seeker – Zakaria Hannache – who has been in Tunisia since August 2022. "Tunisian authorities must under no circumstances repeat the dangerous precedent set by the deportation of Algerian refugee Slimane Bouhafs on 25 August, 2021, which resulted in Bouhafs being kidnapped and then jailed. Bouhafs had been granted refugee status at the time of his incarceration," they said.

They added that Hannache has been prosecuted "on spurious charges, including charges of 'apology for terrorism' and 'undermining national unity', for which he faces up to 35 years in prison, solely for exercising his freedom of expression through his work publishing information and documenting the arrests of prisoners of conscience."

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, in a letter published on 14 November 14, expressed "serious concerns" about Hannache's arrest and detention, as well as about the "charges against him", which "seem to be directly related to his activity as a human rights defender".

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