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Algerian court jails prominent journalist for 3 years

April 2, 2023

Journalist Ihsane El Kadi was given a jail term for "foreign financing of his business" in a case that was denounced by rights groups.

Activists demonstrate outside the Algerian embassy to France in March 2023 to demand the release of release of Algerian journalist Ihsane El Kadi
A petition demanding El Kadi's release was signed by more than 10,000 peopleImage: Christophe Ena/AP/picture alliance

A court in Algeria on Sunday sentenced prominent journalist Ihsane El Kadi to five years in prison, with two of those years suspended.

El Kadi, a vocal critic of the government, was arrested in December and charged with receiving foreign funding.

Algeria's penal code prohibits anyone from receiving funds aimed at "inciting acts susceptible to threaten state security."

His Maghreb Emergent news website and Radio M, some of the last independent outlets in the country, were also shut down.

The court in the capital, Algiers, ordered the media company behind El Kadi's website and radio station dissolved.

El Kadi's lawyer, Abdelghani Badi, said they would appeal the sentence.

Algerian cracks down on protest movement

El Kadi is just one of several journalists and human rights activists to have been jailed recently.

In January, international rights groups criticized what they said was a constant attack on freedoms in Algeria.

They accused authorities of trying to crack down on the pro-democracy Hirak protest movement.

El Kadi was active in the movement, which helped force long-time president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign in 2019.

In February, Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, called on Algerian authorities to end their crackdown on civil society and human rights defenders.

Algeria ranks 134th out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) 2022 World Press Freedom Index.

RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire wrote on Twitter that Sunday's sentence was "absurd" and only served to highlight fabricated charges.

lo/nm (AP, AFP, Reuters)