Algerian journalist’s jail sentences suspended on appeal

Hauwa Mustapha

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Algerian journalist and press freedom activist Khaled Drareni had a two-year jail term reduced on appeal to a six-month suspended sentence , a detainees’ rights group said.

The 41-year-old who became a symbol of the country’s struggle for media freedom used to work for French channel TV5 Monde and press freedom group Reporters without Borders (RSF).

He was sentenced in September 2020 for “inciting” demonstrations and “attacking national unity”.

The National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees announced the reduction in his sentence.

Charges related to his coverage of demonstrations held by the Hirak opposition movement in 2020, a year after the mass protests toppled long time president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

In February 2021, President Abdelmajid Tebboune pardoned Drareni after 11 months behind bars, the following month the high court ruled his case could be re-examined.

The prosecution had requested a heavier sentence against him.

On Wednesday Drareni had tweeted: “Thank you everyone for your ongoing support. Whatever the verdict… I will continue my work fully independently.”

RSF had called the two-year sentence “absurd and arbitrary”.

Algerian rights group LADDH says several journalists remain behind bars in the country, which ranks 146th out of 180 countries on RSF’s World Press Freedom index.

AFP

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