April 7, 2016 / 7:34 PM / 3 years ago

After summoning French envoy, Algeria warns over 'red line'

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika looks on during a swearing-in ceremony in Algiers April 28, 2014. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria accused France on Thursday of crossing a “red line” after French newspaper Le Monde published a front-page picture of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika among leaders it said were named in the Panama Papers leaks.

The leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm have put the offshore wealth of politicians and public figures under worldwide scrutiny.

Just days before a visit by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Algeria summoned the French ambassador on Wednesday to complain that French media reports on the issue were a “malicious campaign”.

Valls starts a two-day visit to Algiers on Saturday to discuss trade ties and investment opportunities. Algeria, an OPEC member, is seeking to diversify its economy away from oil and gas.

Algeria fought a war of independence through 1962. Paris has declined to apologize for the colonial past.

Interior Minister Nouredine Bedoui on Thursday described the summons as an “appropriate reaction” to the media coverage of Bouteflika.

“It is our duty as Algerians not to tolerate harming our symbols and constitutional institutions,” the official news agency APS quoted him as saying. “This a red line.”

Documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca have raised public outrage over how the world’s rich and powerful are able to stash wealth and avoid taxes.

Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Ruth Pitchford

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