French embarrassment as Algerian minister searched at airport

French embarrassment as Algerian minister searched at airport
The Algerian Communications Minister, Hamid Grine, was searched at a Paris airport even though he was travelling on a diplomatic passport, the third such incident over the last few years
2 min read
20 October, 2015
Border Police at Orly airport searched the Algerian communications minister [Getty]
The French government has apologised after an Algerian minister was searched at a Paris airport, with the foreign ministry pledging to ensure that such an "unfortunate incident" would not be repeated.

Algeria summoned France's ambassador on Sunday to protest a day after officials at Orly airport insisted on searching Communications Minister Hamid Grine, even though he holds a diplomatic passport.

The incident prompted a swift response from the foreign ministry in Paris, which said it was working to avoid a similar mistake in the future.

"We are working with the interior ministry and the management of Aeroports de Paris to make sure this type of particularly unfortunate incident does not happen again," ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said.

"We are committed to facilitating the travel of senior foreign officials in France," he said.

The Algerian Foreign Ministry denounced the treatment of Grine as "unacceptable", saying it was the third time such an incident had happened at a ministerial level.

It cited two earlier cases involving Industry Minister, Abdeslam Bouchouareb and Housing Minister, Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Algerian newspaper Liberte reported Grine was in the airport's hospitality lounge when an Algerian diplomat sent him a message from border police asking him to undergo a search.

Grine reportedly had with him an official mission letter and his diplomatic passport, but border police ignored his protests, saying they had "orders" to follow.

The newspaper added the search lasted five minutes.

The Ennahar daily called the search "abusive" and said the "outrage" had to "stem from French parties who want to create a diplomatic crisis" between Alger and Paris.

Ties between France and its former colony have grown closer in recent years on both a political and economic level under the Socialist government of French President Francois Hollande.

In a separate incident in March 2014, France was similarly embarrassed after Morocco's foreign minister was searched as he passed through Charles de Gaulle airport just north of Paris.

At the time, French officials apologised to Rabat and pledged to work with the interior ministry and the airport management to respect the rules regarding diplomatic travel.