An Algerian exile, with refugee rights in Germany, has been arrested in Spain and now faces extradition to Algeria.
In 2003, former Algerian colonel Mohammed Samraoui – at the time a political refugee in Germany – published the book Chronique des années de sang (Denoël, Paris). Samraoui, who had deserted from the Department for Information and Security, denounced, in the book, both the crimes committed by terrorists, who were claiming to act in the name of Islam, and the systematic human rights abuses inflicted by elements of the Algerian state apparatus on its long-suffering population during the 1990s.
A recognised refugee in Germany from 1996, Mohammed Samraoui believed that he would be safe from the long reach of the Algerian state if he travelled to Spain to attend an international chess event. But, on 22 October 2007, he was arrested by the Spanish police in Benalmádena (in the province of Malaga), enforcing an international arrest warrant submitted by the Algerian authorities, accusing Samraoui of ‘desertion, damage to the morale of the army and terrorist activity’. He was transferred to Soto del Real high security prison in Madrid, and was eventually bailed on 31 October by the anti terrorist judge Ismael Moreno, of the Audiencia Nacional (the National Court of Spain). His identity papers were not returned and he now has to register twice a week with the police. While the extradition request is considered, Samraoui is prohibited from returning to Germany and runs the risk of losing his job.
Even though the international arrest warrant was submitted in October 2003, over the last four years, Samraoui has travelled freely, protected by his refugee status, to several European countries without facing any problems. The Spanish judicial system has been the only one to give any credibility to the grotesque charge of ‘terrorism’. The Spanish newspaper El País has circulated a petition in Mohammed Samraoui’s support, which will be presented, to the Spanish authorities in the next few days. It has been signed by respected academics, journalists and human rights organisations in Italy, Spain, Tunisia France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium and is supported by Hélène Flautre, Chair of the Sub-commission on Human Rights of the European Parliament as well as the European Magistrates for Democracy and Freedoms.
View and sign the petition in support of Mohammed Samraoui