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News from Algeria 2007

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  • July 6, 2007 -- In an Independence Day speech given Thursday (July 5th) at the National Defence Ministry, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika discussed the military and its fight against terrorism, as well as the state of economic reforms in the country.

    Bouteflika showed his support for the Algerian army, calling on them to relentlessly continue the fight against terrorism. "As supreme commander of the armed forces, I order the various security corps to intensify their efforts in the objective to exterminate the remnants of terrorism", he said.

    The president called the recent resurgence of bombings in Algeria "appalling", and stressed the need for "greater vigilance" on the part of all Algerians. He invoked "the debate of ideas and dialogue" as the principal method for fighting extremism, adding it is the "foundation on which we wish to build our democracy".

    On the subject of institutional reform, the Algerian leader cited the "opportunity for change [in] the management of state institutions". He described such change as "imperative", at the local level as well as the national level. Bouteflika also acknowledged, in thinly disguised terms, the failure of economic reforms underway since his presidency began in 1999. Algerians, he said, "continue, despite every effort granted by the authorities concerned, to drink and breathe petroleum". The president, who pumped a budget approaching $50m dollars into various economic programmes, said it is a situation that cannot continue. He urged the government to find an alternative solution, citing the damage caused by unstructured and over-indebted enterprises to the public treasury.

    Contrary to recent speculation in the media, the president did not discuss the subject of constitutional referendum. Since first discussing the idea in 2005, a referendum on expanding the powers of the president has been postponed, from 2006 to this year.

    In a statement to Magharebia, Issaad Mohamed of the Movement of Society for Peace declared himself "extremely surprised" the president did not announce a date for the revision of the constitution. Discussions are underway, he said, between the two parliamentary chambers to finalise the referendum.

    Sarah, a 35-year-old homemaker, told Magharebia she "would have liked it to be announced today, to bring an end to speculation." Apparently, she said, "the president is determined to keep us in suspense."


    • July 6, 2007 -- Some nations where American foreign service officers are subject to security restrictions imposed by the State Department:

      Algeria: "The U.S. Government considers the potential threat to U.S. Embassy personnel assigned to Algiers sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under strict security restrictions," the department says in a March notice. "These practices limit, and may occasionally prevent, the movement of U.S. Embassy officials in certain areas of the country."


      • July 7, 2007 -- An Algerian who masqueraded as a Belgian in York for four years has been jailed and faces deportation.

        Illegal immigrant Rashid Mebirouk got into the UK by pretending to be a European Union citizen and therefore entitled to live and work here.

        For years, he worked at the Lighthouse Fisheries fish and chip shop, in Hull Road, using a fake Belgian passport as his ID and living above the shop, York Crown Court heard.

        But when immigration officers raided the chippie in search of another illegal immigrant he was caught and today is behind bars.

        "It is not in the interest of this county that people who sneak into this country by fraudulent means, as you have, should be permitted to remain," said the Recorder of York, Judge Paul Hoffman.

        He recommended that Mebirouk be deported back to Algeria after he finishes a 15-month jail sentence.

        Mebirouk, 34, of Hull Road, York, admitted possessing a false passport with intent to use it to "prove" his identity.

        Prosecutor Rob Galley said immigration officers raided the fish and chip shop after getting a tip-off that an illegal immigrant was working there.

        Mebirouk was inside and gave a false name. Then he handed over the Belgian passport, claiming he had got it in Belgium. In fact, he had bought it for £250 from a man in France and had used it at Dover to enter the UK. But in York, he did not fool chief immigration officer Timothy Gallagher, who spotted four faults with it and knew it was fake.

        Mebirouk's solicitor Mark Thompson said his lawyers had contacted the Immigration Service to see if it would agree to Mebirouk voluntarily returning to Algeria. The defence hoped this would lead to the CPS dropping the case against him.

        But the CPS pressed charges and Mebirouk pleaded guilty.

        His barrister, Philip Lancaster, said that the immigration officers were looking for a different person when they raided the fish and chip shop.

        "He was caught in the net," said Mr Lancaster.

        "If he hadn't been there, he would have gone unnoticed. He has done nothing to bring himself to the attention of the authorities in the four years he has been in the country."

        Chris Hudson, the regional director of the Border and Immigration Agency, said: "If an illegal immigrant acquires false identity documents in order to illegally obtain a job - or even to evade detection by our officers - they can expect to face criminal proceedings and ultimately jail.

        "Yesterday's sentencing sends out a clear message that neither the Border and Immigration Agency nor the courts will tolerate this behaviour. Agency staff are working hard around our region to tackle illegal working and to remove those with no legal right to be here. It is vital the community know this work is being carried out."


        • SANA'A, July 5, 2007 (Saba)- President Ali Abdullah Saleh received, on Thursday, a cable of condolences from the Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on the terror attack which targeted tourists in Marib governorate.

          In his cable, Bouteflika expressed the deep condolences of the Algerian people, affirming solidarity with Yemen. He said that such an act
          necessitates the importance of gathering efforts to fight terrorism.


          • Comment

            • July 7, 2007 -- The first session in the trial of two spies working for Israel was held yesterday in the criminal court of Tizi Ouzou behind closed doors. The two Algerians were supposed to stand before the court in a public hearing session but a judge and attorney general decided at the last minute to hold a closed session because the case was very sensitive.

              One of the two Algerians is called Said Sahnoune. He was born in 1963 in the wilaya (province) of Tizi Ouzou. He is married and his wife works in the national tourism bureau in Tizi Ouzou.

              Sahnoune studied economics and management at the University of Tizi Ouzou. In 1988, he flew to Switzerland to prepare his doctorate degree. He visited many African countries and started working as a journalist after he left the university.

              The second suspect is Ali Touir. He was born in 1976 in the wilaya of M’sila. He started working as a policeman in Tizi Ouzou in 1999.

              Said Sahnoune said in the court he wrote an article about the Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres which was published in Le Matin newspaper in Côte d'Ivoire.

              According to the decision to refer the case to the criminal court, Sahnoune used to work as a non-accredited freelance journalist. He listed himself as he was a correspondent of many world news agencies. Because of that, he got lots of information and documents relating to different fields.

              Working as an executive editor of two francophone newspapers, Said Sahnoune started contacting Israel.

              After publishing his portrait about Shimon Peres in 1993, Israel’s ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire met Sahnoune and congratulated him for his article.

              In 1996, he met him again in Abidjan and invited him to participate in a meeting for Arab journalists held in Israel. Said Sahnoune accepted the invitation and flew to Algeria to suggest this idea to Algerian security services. As the security services authorised him to go to Israel, he did not hesitate to do that, according to him.

              Said Sahnoune took part in a training meeting in Israel where he was trained on preparing economic, political and security reports and ways to collect and obtain information. At that time, he met agents from the Mossad (Israel’s intelligence agency) and started working for them. He sent them detailed reports about the economic and security situation in Algeria and the Kabylie area for $1500 per month.

              At the same time, he worked for Spain’s intelligence services and sent them the same reports.

              In December 1995, Said Sahnoune was arrested on the border between Morocco and Algeria. He possessed several documents containing secret information about the Algerian army plans and lists of wanted terrorists.

              Sahnoune said the other accused, Algerian policeman Ali Touir, gave him those documents.

              Ali Touir’s brother said Ali did not know that Said Sahnoune was a spy working for Israel, he told Echorouk Al Yaoumi.

              On the other hand, the defence lawyer said the list of wanted terrorists and their pictures that Ali Touir gave to Said Sahnoune were not state secrets because they were posted in all police stations in Algeria.

              For his part, Ali’s brother said he was arrested without any advance notice, 15 months ago. He was accused of leaking confidential documents to a foreign state.

              Ali Touli did not have even a passport and he never travelled abroad, said his brother.

              The main suspect Said Sahnoune was required to serve 20 years in prison and 10 years prison were required for the suspect policeman Ali Touir.


              • ALGIERS, July 7, 2007 (Reuters) - A court in Algeria's troubled Kabylie region sentenced an Algerian journalist to 10 years in prison on Saturday for spying for Israel, lawyers said.

                Said Sahnoun, a correspondent for newspapers in sub-Saharan Africa, was found guilty of providing information to Israel's Mossad intelligence service after a criminal court trial in Tizi Ouzou town 100 km (60 miles) east of Algiers.

                Prosecutors said he provided information about the Algerian army's military capabilities and about an Islamist rebel group known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), lawyers involved in the case said.

                The rebel group, which this year began calling itself al Qaeda's north African wing, claimed responsibility for triple suicide bombings that killed 33 people on April 11 in Algiers.

                A policeman accused of the same offences along with Sahnoun was acquitted in the trial, which was held in camera, lawyers said. The policeman's name was not released to the media.

                Dozens of Islamist guerrillas remain at large in Tizi Ouzou region, shielded by criminal and family links and the remoteness of the area.

                The region is also a bastion of Algeria's Berber speakers, who have long had tense ties with the authorities, protesting at what they see as discrimination by the Arab majority.

                Up to 200,000 people have been killed in political bloodshed since 1992 when supporters of a now-outlawed Muslim fundamentalist party launched an armed rebellion after elections the party was poised to win were cancelled.

                The violence has dropped sharply in recent years but a recent spate of bombings claimed by the GSPC has threatened Algeria's attempts to rebuild.


                • July 7, 2007 -- A court-martial in Algeria's troubled Kabylie region has sentenced an Algerian journalist to 10 years in prison for spying for Israel.

                  Said Sahnoun, a correspondent for newspapers in sub-Saharan Africa, was found guilty of providing information to the Zionist regime's Mossad after a court-martial in the town of Tizi Ouzou 100 km east of Algiers.

                  Prosecutors said he provided information about the Algerian army's military capabilities and an Islamist rebel group known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

                  The rebel group, which this year began calling itself al Qaeda's North African wing, claimed responsibility for triple suicide bombings that killed 33 people on April 11 in Algiers.

                  In his confession Sahnoun cited that Mossad has been interested in information regarding Algeria's domestic crises, the thinking and positions of Algeria's top political figures, confidential Algerian financial information and the country's general morale, prosecutors said.

                  A merchant accused of similar espionage charges along with Sahnoun was acquitted in the trial. His name was not released to the media.


                  • Comment

                    • Dimanche 8 juillet 2007 -- Le corps d’un jeune homme âgé de 36 ans, marié et père de 4 enfants répondant aux initiales CH. A., a été découvert jeudi dans la localité de Zaouia-Guentis aux limites de la wilaya de Khenchela avec la wilaya de Tébessa, égorgé comme en témoignent les traces d’une plaie à la gorge.

                      Le défunt a été enlevé la semaine écoulée par un groupes d’individus. La piste terroriste n’est pas à écarter, puisque le fief des terroristes situé à Boudoukhane-El Ma Labiod, au sud de la wilaya, sur les limites comme indiqués des wilayas de Khenchela, Tébessa, Biskra, est à quelques kilomètres. La dépouille a été transférée au service de médecine légale de l’hôpital de Tébessa pour les besoins de l’autopsie. Aussi une enquête a été ouverte pour déterminer les causes exactes du décès. Notons enfin que la victime résidait à Garet, commune de O. Rechache, wilaya de Khenchela.


                      • Décidément, les Algériens ne sont jamais à l’abri d’augmentations «surprises» des prix des produits alimentaires. Comme de coutume depuis quelques années, c’est en faisant leurs emplettes que les citoyens découvrent que le prix de telle ou telle denrée alimentaire a été revu à la hausse. Une hausse que les grossistes «annoncent» en appliquant une nouvelle «tarification » pour l’huile, la semoule, le sucre, le thon, les fromages d’importation et même les couches-culottes:

                        Dimanche 8 juillet 2007 -- En l’absence de communication officielle qui «prévient» les consommateurs de l’augmentation des prix, les distributeurs tentent vaille que vaille de donner une explication «logique» à cette subite flambée des prix. Aucun des grossistes que nous avons rencontrés hier en début d’après-midi n’a été en mesure de nous expliquer pourquoi et comment depuis une semaine le consommateur doit payer 10 DA de plus son litre d’huile. «Je ne me pose pas ce genre de questions. J’ai payé 5 DA de plus pour un litre d’huile à l’usine, chez Cevital, je répercute et je récupère mes 5 DA. Le détaillant en fera de même dès qu’il aura épuisé son stock…. Je crois qu’il y a eu augmentation du prix de la matière première sur le marché internationale», tente de nous expliquer, comme pour se dédouaner, ce grossiste dont les locaux se trouvent au rez-de-chaussée d’une villa dont les garages sont transformés en aire de stockage.

                        C’est la règle pour presque toutes les «villas» qui se trouvent dans cette partie du quartier de l’Apreval à Kouba. Un peu comme pour se donner bonne conscience, le jeune homme regrette le fait que certains détaillants qui ont eu vent de l’augmentation du prix de l’huile, du sucre, de la semoule, du thon et des fromages répercutent avant même de renouveler leurs stocks. Une situation que dénonce un autre grossiste de ce même quartier «réputé» pour être celui des distributeurs.

                        Des grossistes alignés les uns à côté des autres tout le long et de part et d’autre d’une grande artère défoncée dont les trottoirs sont occupés par des cartons de produits livrés au soleil, à la poussière et au gaz carbonique. Il est très difficile de circuler. De se garer. Les fourgons chargent et déchargent, les véhicules légers tentent tant bien que mal de se frayer un chemin, de stationner. C’est que bon nombre d’Algérois viennent faire les courses du mois dans ce quartier de grossistes, histoire d’économiser quelques dizaines de dinars.

                        La surprise est totale pour cette mère de famille qui se voit dans l’obligation de payer 50 DA de plus le bidon d’huile de 5 litres, 5 DA sur le prix du sucre, quelque 800 DA les 25 kilos de semoule. Elle n’en revient pas. Et elle n’est pas la seule. Le hasard a voulu que l’on rencontre une autre qui prépare le mariage de son fils. Ses calculs s’avèrent faux. Elle doit revoir sa comptabilité et réaménager son budget. Une situation qui lui met les nerfs en boule. Elle s’accroche avec le gérant qui tente de lui expliquer pourquoi le kilo de thon passe de 300 à 330 DA, pourquoi elle doit débourser 10 DA supplémentaires pour la petite boîte de champignons.

                        «Allah ghaleb, les importateurs ont augmenté les prix parce qu’ils doivent payer une taxe supplémentaire au port.» Un argument que nous tentons de discuter avec le grossiste qui se fait un plaisir de «satisfaire» notre curiosité en nous renvoyant sur les douanes avant de nous indiquer que les prix des fromages d’importation ont augmenté de 20 DA. Cela serait dû selon notre interlocuteur à «la hausse de l’euro». Un «prétexte » que nous sert un dépositaire en couches-sculottes et serviettes hygiéniques qui nous indique que selon la qualité le prix de la couche a augmenté de 2 à 10 DA l’unité. Qui dit mieux ?


                        • Originally posted by Al-khiyal View Post
                          July 8, 2007 -- Algeria jailed a journalist on charges of spying for Israel.

                          A criminal court in Tizi Ouzou, a town outside Algiers, sentenced Sa'id Sahnoun to 10 years' imprisonment Saturday for passing Mossad information about the Algerian military and local Islamist terrorist groups. Sahnoun works for several newspapers covering sub-Saharan Africa.

                          Israeli officials had no comment on the case, though one Jerusalem source said that Algeria, being low on the Jewish state's threat list, would provide little interest to Mossad.


                          • July 8, 2007 -- A drug smuggling network consisting of ten people, involving Malta and Italy was busted in Oran, a city in the northwest of Algeria. An Algerian court ordered five people to be kept in custody and issued arrest warrants against five runaways indicted in the smuggling of drugs to Italy and Malta, El Khabar an Algerian independent newspaper reported. In the operation, the judiciary police services confiscated 2180 kilograms of drugs on Wednesday 27th June in Algeria.

                            The Algerian police and the provincial counter narcotic smuggling services, successfully dismantled a narcotic smuggling network and unveiled its masterminds. The smuggling network included two drug barons and three famous businessmen residing in various places in Algeria. El Khabar reported that the police confiscated 21.8 quintals of treated “Kif”, a form of hash, during the operation.

                            The magistrate charged the detainees with international drug smuggling, criminal network constitution, acquisition of weapons and money fraud, El Khabar added.

                            The operation was given utmost importance as the Algerian customs services recently confiscated 20 quintals of “Kif” in the wilaya of Tindouf located on the western borders with Morocco.


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