Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Strange Case Of Mohamed Samraoui

Mohamed Samraoui was arrested on the 22nd October in Malaga, and after being held in prison for a few days he is now outside of prison on conditional release. It is believed that his arrest followed a request from Algeria via Interpol, and he is now awaiting a decision on the extradition request from the Algerian authorities.

Samraoui is no ordinary citizen, and his current situation in Spain is also far from ordinary. He is really Colonel Mohamed Samraoui, a former senior officer in Algerian military intelligence who deserted his post in 1996 and claimed political asylum as a refugee in Germany. He alleged that he had been instructed to assasinate Algerian Islamists exiled in Germany, and also subsequently denounced the role played by the Algerian army in the bloody and very dirty war that took place in the country throughout the 1990's. His allegations include involvement of the Algerian armed forces in terrorist actions attributed to Islamist rebels, and he has written a book on the subject.

Given all of this this, it is perhaps not surprising that the Algerian authorities would like to have him back, what is surprising is that the Spanish government should agree to detain someone who is a recognised political refugee in a fellow EU country, and then embark on a process which could lead to that person being repatriated to a country where he can hardly expect to receive a warm welcome. Whilst awaiting the decision on the extradition request, Samraoui is forbidden to return to his home and family in Germany. Different motives have been suggested for the cooperation by Spain. One suggestion is that they want Algerian cooperation with the resolution of the conflict in what used to be the Spanish Sahara. Another, stronger, reason why they might want to please the Algerian government is the business potential of the huge reserves of natural gas which that country possesses. A decision to extradite will be an appalling blow against the right to political asylum and to have a safe refuge from persecution, regardless of whether it's good for business.


Anonymous said...

it is not normal that a man like samroui who took all that risk to bring the truth to the world and to algerian people will be send to the criminal who will certainly kill him like they killed all those who re aigainst them. im realy sad and upset that such courageous man will be let alone where human right and where is the the truth and where all the journalists , shame on spanish goverment and shame of that world and this life.

Graeme said...

Unfortunately it's becoming too normal for people who are politically inconvenient to find their right to asylum is in danger in Europe. However, the last I heard about Mohamed Samraoui was that he was safely back in Germany, although he had to leave Spain in a clandestine manner.