Algeria arrests another journalist amid crackdown on press freedom

Protests in front of the offices of the newspaper Liberté in Algiers, April 25, 2021.
Protests in front of the offices of the newspaper Liberté in Algiers, April 25, 2021. © AFP (archives)

Algerian authorities have arrested a journalist from a local French-language newspaper and searched his house, a rights group and one of his colleagues said Monday. 

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"Mohamed Mouloudj, journalist at the Liberte daily, was arrested on Sunday and his house searched," the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) said on Facebook.

"He is still in custody in Algiers."

Mouloudj's newspaper, where he has worked for a decade, did not immediately comment, but one of his colleagues confirmed the arrest.

"He had already had run-ins with the security services, who took away his passport for months," Ali Boukhlef said.

"He had also been taken in for questioning several times."

Another Algerian journalist, Hassan Bouras, was arrested a week ago and formally placed in preventive detention on Sunday, accused of "glorifying terrorism" among other crimes, his lawyers said.

Algeria is ranked 146th out of 180 countries and territories on the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index.

According to prisoners' rights group CNLD, around 200 people are in jail in connection with the Hirak pro-democracy protest movement that has shaken the North African country sporadically since 2019, or over individual freedoms.

Also on Monday, the police announced the arrest of 16 people suspected of belonging to the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie (MAK), which the government says is a terrorist organisation.

They were detained in connection with an investigation into recent forest fires in the northeastern Kabylie region, and the lynching of a man after rumours spread that he had started deadly blazes in the area.

An unidentified journalist was said to be among the 16 suspects.

The official APS news agency, quoting the police, said 11 of those arrested were "involved" in the killing of Djamel Ben Ismail, who had volunteered to help put out the fires that killed dozens in August.

More than 80 suspects have been detained over the man's death.

(AFP)

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