Algerian Journalist Must Serve Two Years in Prison, Appeal Court Says

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns today’s decision by an Algiers appeal court to keep Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni in prison, albeit reducing his sentence from three to two years in prison. This decision by a justice system that follows orders will contribute to the decline in Algeria’s image and reinforce this independent journalist’s status as a symbol, RSF said.

“We are outraged by the blind obstinacy of the Algerian judges,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Keeping Khaled Drareni in prison shows the regime has locked itself into a position of absurd, unjust and harsh repression. By deterring journalistic coverage of the ‘Hirak’ anti-government protests, the compliant Algerian justice system is deluding itself that you can put a protest movement into a pressure cooker and shut the lid. This is a futile, explosive strategy that undermines the legitimacy of those carrying it out.”

In a tweet, Deloire added: “This decision will have significant consequences for Algeria’s image. The repetition of grossly unjust decisions is reinforcing this independent journalist’s status as a symbol. If Khaled was originally a source irritation for the regime, he is now a major thorn in its side.”

The editor of the Casbah Tribune news site and the Algeria correspondent of RSF and the French TV channel TV5 Monde, Drareni was originally sentenced on 10 August to three years in prison and a fine of 50,000 dinars (330 euros) on charges of “inciting an unarmed gathering” and “endangering national unity” for covering the Hirak protests.

At the opening of the appeal hearing on 8 September, the prosecution again requested a four-year jail sentence, as it did at the original trial.