Algeria’s former Head of Intelligence, General Wasini Bouazza, is on military trial for committing “serious violations" during his eight-month tenure, according to al-Watan newspaper.
The daily reported that Bouazza, who has been in detention since he was fired, is accused of “a suspected role in state security affairs,” saying his dismissal put an end to a four-month war among the previous regime’s agencies after the death of army chief of staff Lieutenant-General Ahmed Gaid Saleh.
Saleh was considered the "godfather" of Bouazza and appointed him as head of Internal Security after restructuring the intelligence service.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and the new army chief, Major-General Said Chengriha, fired Bouazza a week ago, when the presidency appointed General Abdelghani Rachedi as a deputy, granting him “wide powers”.
The dismissal of Bouazza is a sign that the authorities are determined to terminate the legacy of Saleh, who was the de facto leader of the country after president Abdelaziz Bouteflika's resignation in April 2019, political sources said.
After Bouazza was removed from office, a group of Hirak activists expressed cautious optimism. However, their hopes that the security apparatus would not crack down on activists dissipated with the appointment of the new chief, who ordered the arrest of a number of protesters and summoned many for interrogation at police headquarters.
During Bouazza’s tenure, dozens of Algerian activists, politicians, and journalists had been imprisoned.
Former counter-terrorism chief General Abdelkader Ait-Ouarabi will be released in the summer from military prison, where he is serving a five-year sentence for "violating orders of the military leadership" and "destroying confidential documents."
In a related development, Tunisian associations on freedom of expression and the promotion of democracy issued a statement demanding the release of Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni.
They also called for lifting the ban on French e-newspaper “Maghreb Emergent” and Radio M., which belongs to Drareni, and broadcasts its programs online.
Drareni, a correspondent for Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and French TV5, is accused of “unlicensed protesting” and “incitement against national unity.”
The statement was published by Democratic Transition and Human Rights Support (DAAM), a non-governmental organization based in Tunis and concerned with freedoms and democracy in the region.
It called on the Algerian authorities to stop using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to silence independent media and persecute critics, and end the arbitrary April 9 decision to block the Maghreb region news website and its partner, the Associative Radio website.
“Blocking these two independent websites in Algeria is a blatant attack on the right to freedom of expression and press.”
The statement was signed by a number of international and Tunisian associations and media groups.
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