Ten French television presenters joined Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in demonstrating outside the Algerian embassy in Paris this morning in support of RSF’s jailed Algeria correspondent, Khaled Drareni, whose appeal against a prison sentence is due to be heard in Algiers tomorrow.
Drareni, who is also the French TV channel TV5 Monde’s correspondent, was sentenced to three years in prison on 10 August for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests in Algeria. He has been jailed since late March.
The ten presenters taking part in today’s demonstration at the joint request of RSF and the Khaled Drareni support committee were Marie-Laure Augry, Gilles Bouleau, Daphné Burki, Anne-Claire Coudray, Laurent Delahousse, Françoise Joly, Mohammed Kaci, Guy Lagache, Harry Roselmack and Bernard de la Villardière.
“We are gathered here on the eve of Khaled Drareni’s appeal hearing to request his release,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “By sentencing Khaled to three years in prison, Algeria is violating not only its international obligations and its own constitution but also the ideals of Algeria’s independence. The Algerian authorities wanted to make an example of Khaled Drareni in order to intimidate all journalists. In so doing, they have turned him into a symbol of resistance against censorship.”
De la Villardière said: “Khaled Drareni is young, talented and admirable. He chose to stay in Algeria. He is one of those courageous Algerian journalists who are fighting for freedom of expression in their country.”
Coudray said: “Khaled has become the symbol of the noble cause that is press freedom. Like all of my colleagues here today, I stand in solidarity with Khaled and I hope our support will help to end the injustice to which he is being subjected.”
Three of France’ best-known TV presenters – Christine Ockrent, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor and David Pujadas – were unable to take part in the demonstration in person but expressed their support in videos posted on RSF’s social media channels.
The charges on which Drareni was convicted were “inciting an unarmed gathering” and “endangering national unity.” As well as a jail term, he was fined 50,000 dinars.
Two other demonstrations in support of Drareni were held simultaneously this morning in Tunis and Algiers at the request of RSF and local organizations.
Algeria is ranked 146th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index, five places lower than in 2019 and 27 places lower than in 2015.