General Directorate of National Security
In Algeria, the General Directorate of National Security (GDNS) acts as the government department that enforces the laws for the Algerian people. The General Directorate of National Security oversees four different wings. These wings within the GDNS include: the criminal investigation department, the intelligence service department, the public security service department, the republican security units (a national military force concerned with protecting the Algerian people on both a national and an international level--similar to the U.S.'s National Guard), and the Border and Immigration police department. At the end of 2009, the General Directorate of National Security in Algeria had approximately 160,000 officers.
The Tounsi-Hamel Transition
On February 25 2010, Ali Tounsi--the General Directorate of National Security's top police Chief--was assassinated by Colonel Choueib Oultache; Tounsi's aide. On July 7 2010, following Tounsi's assassination, Major-General Abdelghani Hamel took over the top police chief role for the GDNS. Hamel is well known for being a close friend of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and received the position just two days after getting the promotion to Major-General. Hamel's credentials were apparent, he headed the Republican Guard--which is an elite unit of the paramilitary gendarmerie--for two years prior. Very soon after Hamel's appointment to top police chief he had made drastic moves and changes to the GDNS: He replaced approximately three-quarters of the regional police commanders giving the GDNS an entirely new leadership not only from the top position but at a ground level as well. Hamel's mission was to reform the entire department as far as the working conditions and discipline, from the top to the bottom.
The Faiçal Prosecution
On April 21 2013, Cheb Faiçal--a popular Algerian pop-singer--was arrested in Oran for the composing and performing of incriminating content against the General Directorate of National Security and its top police chief Major-General Hamel. Faiçal was Arraigned for performing and composing the song on April 22, 2013; while he was found guilty and sentenced to the Attorney General's full asking sentence--six month imprisonment--on May 2, 2013.
Although the song was never formally recorded and only strictly performed due to its conspicuous and condemning nature; Faiçal only performed the song on rare occasions in night clubs in Oran. The song "pokes fun" at Major-General Hamel and the General Directorate of National Security while still being very "tongue-in-cheek". Faiçal denies ever writing the song saying "These words are not mine".
This isn't the only instance in Algeria in which an artist has been arrested and prosecuted for practicing controversial free speech. In 2005, Cheb Azzedine was found guilty of releasing a song that had mocked the governor of a neighboring province in Algeria. Azzedine had been imprisoned in the city of Chlef for one year.
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