April 7th, 2010
06:45 PM ET

Holder discusses terrorism, signs pact with Algeria

Attorney General Eric Holder signed a treaty with Algeria on Wednesday that he hopes will help combat terrorism in an area crucial in the battle against violent extremists. During a visit to Algiers, Holder signed the pact with Algerian Minister of Justice Tayeb Belaiz.

The United States has released 19 Guantanamo Bay detainees to Algeria over a span of several years. Some of the former detainees, including three this year, have been acquitted of terror-related crimes by Algerian courts.

"Algeria is an important partner in the fight against terrorism and transnational crime," Holder said. "This treaty will help us ensure that terrorists and other criminals are not able to avoid justice by simply hiding evidence beyond our borders," Holder said. 

Under the new treaty, the two nations are required to take a wide range of actions that could help prosecutions while protecting the rights of defendants. 

The United States and Algeria are bound to provide requested documents, records and other evidence, to locate or identify suspects and fugitives, to serve documents, to execute search warrants and to help recover proceeds from crimes. Bank secrecy would not be grounds to refuse to cooperate with requests for information on financial crimes. 

The countries maintain the right to refuse requests from one another in cases that "constitute a pure military offense," or would interfere with the sovereignty of the country receiving the request. 

The Justice Department says it has now signed more than 50 similar treaties with countries around the world. 

Holder travels next from Algeria to Spain on his mission to improve cooperation in combating terrorism and other transnational crime.

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