Algeria: Journalist in pretrial detention over foreign funding charges

Journalist Ihsane El Kadi, founder and director of Algerian online station Radio M and the Maghreb Emergent media, was arrested on 24 December and placed in pretrial detention over funding charges on 29 December. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on the Algerian authorities to release El Kadi and reverse the decision to close the two news outlets he owns.

Frame of a video of Radio M, which features Algerian journalist Ihsane El Kadi. Credit: Radio M.

On 24 December, El Kadi, who is a vocal critic of the government, was arrested in the city of Zemouri, east of the capital Algiers, by six police officers in civilian clothes and allegedly taken to the Directorate General of Internal Security in Algiers, according to reports published onMaghreb Emergent. 

The secret services searched the headquarters of Interfaces Médias, the company that publishes Radio M and Maghreb Emergent, and confiscated equipment, including studio cameras, computers and other technical equipment in the presence of El Kadi. The premises of the two news outlets were sealed by the security services. 

Both news outlets published an article on 25 December, claiming that their critical reporting of Algerian President Tebboune’s second term and organisations affiliated with the popular movement opposing him were likely to be the reason for El-Kadi’s arrest. 

On 29 December, El Kadi was placed in pretrial detention, charged with receiving foreign funding for the media he runs and allegedly undermining state security, according to his lawyers. French newspaper Le Monde, quoting Maghreb Emergent, reported that the journalist was being prosecuted under Article 95bis, which provides for a prison sentence of between five and seven years for "anyone who receives funds, a gift or an advantage... to carry out or incite to carry out acts likely to undermine the security of the state, the stability and normal functioning of its institutions, national unity, territorial integrity, the fundamental interests of Algeria or public security and order.”

El Kadi’s arrest, which comes on top of the closure of media outlets and the convictions of other Algerian journalists in recent months, is part of a government clampdown on the media. The IFJ reiterates its concern about the media situation in the country and calls on the Algerian authorities to commit to press freedom and allow journalists to work freely without fear of reprisals.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: "Our colleague Ihsane El Kadi has been arrested for doing nothing more than his job. His pretrial detention is unacceptable and a blatant attack on media freedom. We call for his immediate and unconditional release."

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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