The International Federation of Journalists today condemned the Algerian authorities responsible for a “new wave of political and legal attacks” against independent journalists in Algeria.
During recent weeks, the independent Algerian journalists in question - Hassan Bourras, Sid Ahmed Simiane and Farid Alilat – have been either fined or handed down prison sentences for the publication of articles critical of high-level state officials.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that journalists can be sent to prison for carrying out their professional duties,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The only purpose of such draconian measures is to silence independent media and to block journalists from doing their job free from intimidation and threats”.
On 04 November, Sid Ahmed Simiane, a former journalist from the daily newspaper, Le Matin, currently residing in France, was sentenced to six months in prison following a complaint by the Minister of Defense. On the same day, Farid Alilat, the managing editor of the daily Liberté was given a four-month suspended prison sentence and fined 100,000 dinars (close to 1,200 euros) for ‘insulting the head of state’. The court also fined Le Matin’s managing editor, Mohamed Benchicou, 100,000 dinars and on 16 November placed him under judicial review for carrying foreign bonds into Algiers, which according to legal experts is not against the law.
On 06 November, Hassan Bourras, a correspondent a number of dailies in El Bayadh, western Algeria, including El Djazaïri and the national daily El Youm, was sentenced to two years in prison by a local court over two articles about corruption he wrote for El Djazaïri. He also faces a five-year ban from the journalism profession and a fine of up to 200,000 dinars (around 2,400 euros). Although the court of Saida released him temporarily on 02 December, he had been in prison for three weeks and was on hunger strike up until this court began an appeal process on 01 December.
The IFJ is calling on the local authorities to withdrawal immediately all charges against Hassan Bouras and his colleagues and to respect journalists’ rights to access of information and to uphold the principles of a free press in Algeria.
On October 24th, the IFJ held a day of solidarity for Algerian journalists at its headquarters in Brussels in which it agreed on a declaration reached by journalists, press freedom groups and supporters to raise awareness of the media crisis in Algeria. This day was organized as a response to recent events in which there have been suspensions of newspapers, arrests of publishers and leading journalists and a growing anxiety within the independent media over political pressure in advance of national elections next year.
“The profound crisis being experienced by the Algerian media requires urgent action at international level,” said White.
Further details on the IFJ declaration in support of the Algerian media can be found at:
Further information: + 32 2 235 22 00
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries