Algeria was left in shock after war of liberation icon Lakhdar Bouregaa was arrested Saturday for making statements against the army and its chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah.
Bouregaa, 80, was arrested at his home in the upmarket Hydra neighborhood overlooking Algiers and taken to an intelligence services base.
According to state TV, a judge in the Algiers court of Bir Murad Reiss accused Bouregaa of “contributing to weakening the army’s morale” and “insulting authorities.”
On Saturday, Bouregaa declared that the “People's National Army is not descendant of the National Liberation Army,” in what was interpreted by the military as a comment against its reputation.
He told reporters and opposition figures that Salah “has since 2004 acted as political governor for Abdelaziz Bouteflika,” referring to when the former president assigned him as the country’s army chief of staff, replacing General Mohamed Ammari.
Bouregaa said that the army commander used to “glorify Bouteflika and today accuses the popular movement of being controlled by foreign parties.”
His statement was in reference to Salah’s criticism that the protesters were “exaggerating in their demands,” especially in regards to the departure of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui.
He stressed that the regime “has never been legitimate, and today's generations have discovered the reality behind every political figure in the country.
Salah is intolerant to what is said and written about him in media. He jailed Generals Hocine Benhadid and Ali Ghadiri for mentioning him in their comments to the press.
Many of those who took part in the 1954-62 war of independence against French colonial rule were shocked by Bouregaa’s arrest and the charges and media campaign against him.
Human rights activist Fodil Boumala told Asharq Al-Awsat that the regime had “crossed all limits.”
Several lawyers announced they would volunteer to defend the political activist, who was always present at opposition meetings.
Bouregaa said earlier he would not participate in the opposition parties’ meeting scheduled for Saturday.
He added that he was "not interested" in the dialogue called for by the army to discuss holding new presidential elections, saying that “they have already chosen a candidate who is tailored” to their interests.