New York — Algerian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release journalist Said Boudour and cease arresting journalists for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On April 23, police in the city of Oran arrested Boudour, a blogger and freelance journalist, while he was covering anti-government protests on his Facebook page, according to news reports and local journalist and press freedom advocate Mustapha Bendjama, who is following the case and spoke with CPJ via messaging app.
As of today, Boudour remains in custody but has not been formally charged with a crime, Bendjama said. Yesterday, a judge extended Boudour’s pretrial detention at the Oran National Security headquarters by 48 hours, according to Bendjama and those reports.
The journalist is scheduled to appear before state prosecutors at a hearing tomorrow, according to Bendjama and those reports.
“Instead of addressing the reasons for the ongoing protests in the country, Algerian authorities are locking up the messengers,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa senior researcher, Justin Shilad. “Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Said Boudour and ensure that members of the press can work without facing intimidation, harassment, and arrest.”
Boudour has contributed to the privately owned local news websites Algeria Direct and Journalistes Citoyerns d’Algerie, and has covered anti-government protests, which have been taking place in Algeria since February 2019, on his Facebook page, according to CPJ’s review of his work.
Previously, in September 2019, a court in Oran issued a warrant for Boudour’s arrest; he turned himself over to authorities in October of that year, according to news reports and CPJ’s coverage from the time. The journalist was interrogated about his protest coverage on Facebook and was accused of violating anti-state and false news laws, according to those sources.
Boudour was released following the interrogations, and on November 23, 2020, a court in Oran sentenced him in absentia to one year in prison and a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars (US$375) on charges of defaming of state institutions, spreading false news, undermining the morale of the army, and insulting the regime, according to news reports.
On March 1, 2021, Boudour turned himself in to the Oran National Security headquarters and on March 10, a court reconvicted him those charges of insulting the regime, and acquitted him of the others, according to Boudour, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app last month, and news reports. The court gave him a two-month suspended prison sentence, according to those reports.
CPJ emailed Algeria’s Ministry of Justice for comment but did not receive any response.