Algeria: Journalist sentenced to years in prison amid growing media crackdown

An Algerian court has sentenced journalist Abdelkrim Zeghileche to two years in prison over a Facebook post. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) deplored the ruling as a blatant attack against freedom of expression and expressed its grave concerns over the growing media crackdown in Algeria.

Portraits of Algerian detainees Credits: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP

In the latest trial against a journalist in Algeria, Zeghileche, head of the independent, web-based radio station Radio-Sarbacane, was charged with “endangering national unity” and “insulting the head of land.” He allegedly posted calls to create a new political party on Facebook.

Zeghileche has been in detention since June 24. On August 24, an Algerian court sentenced him to two years in prison and a fine of 100,000 dinars ($777). His lawyer Djamel Aissiouane said he would appeal the ruling.

Anti-government protests have swept Algeria since last year when demonstrators ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power. 

In recent months, Algerian courts have stepped up the prosecution and harassment of journalists, protestors, opposition politicians and social media users. Lawyer Aissiouane told AFP: “Now, whenever any of Algeria’s opposition speaks, they label them as ‘endangering national unity’ to jail them.”

Growing pressure over journalists and media

Earlier this month, journalist Khaled Drareni was sentenced to three years in prison for reporting on the Hirak protest movement. The IFJ and other international journalists associations and human rights organizations strongly condemned his sentence.

In July, Ali Djamel Toubal, who had also reported on the anti-regime demonstrations, was sentenced to 15 months in prison on charges of “insulting official state institutions.”

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We are deeply concerned over the deteriorating state of press freedom in Algeria. We demand the immediate release of Abdelkrim Zeghileche and all the journalists detained in Algeria.”

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

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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