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Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni jailed for two years on appeal

Protesters call for Khaled Drareni's release outside Algiers court house on September 8, 2020.
Protesters call for Khaled Drareni's release outside Algiers court house on September 8, 2020. © Ryad Kramdi, AFP
5 min

Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni received a two-year prison term at his appeal hearing on Tuesday, in a trial rights groups have called a test of press freedom in a country recently rocked by anti-government protests.

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Drareni, 40, an editor at the Casbah Tribune news site and correspondent for French-language channel TV5 Monde, had been sentenced to three years in jail in August for his coverage of Algeria's anti-government protests.

The journalist was arrested on March 29 on charges of “inciting an unarmed gathering” and “endangering national unity” after covering demonstrations by the “Hirak” protest movement.

Weekly protests rocked Algeria for more than a year and only came to a halt in March due to the novel coronavirus crisis.

The Algerian judiciary has stepped up prosecutions and convictions of journalists, activists, political opponents and bloggers in recent months.

Some journalists have been accused of sowing discord, threatening national interests and being on the payroll of “foreign parties” with several in prison and trials under way.

Algerian journalist Drareni jailed in test of press freedom after wave of protests
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Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which had called for Drareni's release, condemned Tuesday's verdict.

"We are outraged by the blind stubbornness of the Algerian judges who have just condemned (Drareni) to 2 years in prison," RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire tweeted after the verdict was announced. 

"Khaled's detention proves the regime locks itself into a logic of absurd, unfair and violent repression."

Drareni was tried along with Samir Benlarbi and Slimane Hamitouche, two figures of the protest movement known as "Hirak". 

Facing the same charges, Benlarbi and Hamitouche were sentenced to four months in prison and released on time served.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

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