Algerian opposition party head arrested for 'insulting president'

Algerian opposition party head arrested for 'insulting president'
Fethi Ghares was detained by authorities for allegedly insulting President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
2 min read
01 July, 2021
Algeria has faced protests from popular opposition movements [Getty]

Algerian authorities arrested the head of an opposition party for allegedly insulting President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and other charges, his wife and rights groups said on Thursday.

Fethi Ghares, 47, coordinator for the small leftist Democratic and Social Movement party, was taken from his home on Wednesday night in a suburb of Algiers, said his wife Messaouda Cheballah.

Lawyers for Ghares said he was detained on several charges, including "insulting the president" and "publishing information that could undermine national unity".

No further details were given.

Said Salhi, vice-president of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH), said the arrest of Ghares was another sign of "repression" in the North African nation.

"Political action is not a crime," Salhi said in a statement on Facebook, decrying that the head of a political party was "in prison for expressing his opinion".

Ghares joined the pro-democracy Hirak movement in 2019, the mass protests that swept veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power.

The long-running protest movement is demanding the overhaul of Algeria's political system.

The government has banned Hirak demonstrations and stepped up legal proceedings against opponents, activists, journalists and academics.

Some 300 people are currently behind bars on charges related to the Hirak, according to the CNLD prisoners' rights group.