Algerian dissident case raises fears over Tunisian rights

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An Algerian dissident was due to appear in an Algerian court on Wednesday, local television reported, apparently confirming he was no longer in Tunisia where he had held refugee status.

Soulimane Bouhafs was to be accused of membership of MAK, a Kabylie region separatist group that Algeria declared a terrorist organization last year, Algeria’s private Ennahar television reported.

The case has outraged rights groups in Tunisia, who say the government handed Bouhafs over to Algerian authorities in breach of his refugee status.

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It has raised questions over the rule of law in Tunisia after President Kais Saied seized governing powers in July, suspending parliament for an emergency period that he has indefinitely prolonged, in moves his critics call a coup.

On Sunday, Algeria detained Tunisian media mogul Nabil Karoui, Saied’s main opponent in the 2019 presidential election, as he was entering from Tunisia, local media reported.

Karoui, who was detained along with his brother, has for years faced a corruption case that has twice put him in prison for pre-trial detention.

Since Saied’s intervention in July, numerous officials have been detained or put under house arrest on existing charges and Amnesty International said it has identified at least 50 people subjected to travel bans.

A group of Tunisian rights organizations said on Tuesday that witnesses had seen cars with unusual license plates arriving at Bouhafs’ house and taking him to an unknown destination.

Algeria is cracking down on MAK, which seeks independence for the mostly Berber-speaking Kabylie region, citing what it says is Moroccan support for the group as one of the reasons it cut diplomatic ties with Rabat last week.

Algeria is Tunisia’s most populous and powerful neighbor and since Saied announced the emergency measures its foreign minister has visited Tunis several times, meeting the president.

Neither Algerian nor Tunisian officials were immediately available for comment.

Read more:

Tunisia issues arrest warrant for ex-presidential candidate Nabil Karoui

Algeria cuts diplomatic ties with neighboring Morocco

Tunisian President Kais Saied extends parliament suspension until further notice

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