Algeria charges researcher for European NGO, group says

TUNIS, Feb 22 (Reuters) - A European-based civil society organisation said on Wednesday that one of its researchers had been charged in Algeria with spreading classified information and taking money to disturb the public peace, accusations it said were baseless.

The Geneva-based Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime said senior analyst Raouf Farrah, along with his father Sebti Farrah and seven other people, had appeared in court over the weekend and held in custody.

Algerian authorities have not made public statements on the case. Reuters has asked them for comment.

The arrests were made as part of Algeria's investigation into how a rights activist Amira Bouraoui, who was facing a travel ban, had escaped this month to France via Tunisia.

Algeria recalled its ambassador to France for consultations, accusing Paris of orchestrating her escape.

Rights groups say Algeria has cracked down on political activists following the 2019-20 mass protest movement that led the army to oust veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Last month authorities revealed a decision to shut down Algeria's oldest independent rights group, the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights, the international rights group Human Rights Watch said.

Reporting by Angus McDowall; editing by Grant McCool

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