Mohamed Samraoui, who once held the rank of colonel in Algeria's feared secret service, the Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité (DRS), was born in 1953 in the east Algerian town of Bordj.
A qualified biochemist and passionate chess enthusiast, this quiet, inscrutable father of four spent the bulk of his career in the secret services, first in economic intelligence, then in counterespionage.
He hit the international limelight in the spring of 2001 when he revealed to TV channel Al Jazira that Algerian intelligence was behind the creation of fundamentalist guerrilla grouping, the GIA. In July 2002 he testified at the defamation trial of Habib Souaidia, sued by former defence minister Khaled Nezzar. He reiterated his allegations against the regime.
Mohamed Samraoui belongs to the new generation of senior officers – those who were too young to fight in the War of Independence against France. He is proud of his military career. He joined the army at the age of 21 and was seconded to worked as a teacher and then as a manager in a major state company.
He joined intelligence in 1979 and rapidly climbed the ladder of promotion, becoming head of the political police, Sécurité Militaire (SM) in an army brigade. He then moved into economic intelligence and received counter-terrorist training in Italy and with the KGB in Moscow.
In June 1989 he joined Algeria's biggest counterespionage service, the SRA, becoming its head one year later. For two years his brief was to work on sensitive issues that were the preserve of the army. They included white collar crime, the states of emergency, and the 'Human Rights Release Commission', an ad hoc body that decided on their individual merits whether FIS activists imprisoned in February 1992 should be released.
He was also in charge of probes into the backgrounds of appointees to ministerial and diplomatic posts and to top jobs in the major state-owned companies. At the same time he taught at the Institute of Intelligence Officers in Algiers.
In 1992 as the political situation entered deadlock, terrorist attacks began and repression grew, Mohamed Samraoui challenged his superiors. He made no secret of his opposition to mass arrests and the internment camps in the Sahara. What's more powerful figures were leaning on him for his investigations into corruption.
Following the assassination of President Boudiaf in June 1992 he prepared to quit, but counterespionage boss, Smain Lamari, offered him a job as defence attaché in the then German capital, Bonn where he was to work on dismantling international Islamist networks.
In 1995 he took part in negotiations with the Islamic Salvation Army (AIS) in Europe, but by the end of the year his relations with his senior officers had reached breaking point. Talks with the AIS had foundered and Samraoui stood up against the planned assassination of FIS leaders exiled in Germany. He was recalled to Algiers.
On April 19 1996, after 25 years in the army, he applied for and obtained political asylum in Germany. From his new home in Bonn he now calls for the setting up of a justice, truth and reconciliation committee and is writing two books on the shadowy role of the DRS and its manipulation of Islamist networks.