Committee to Protect Journalists (New York)
Reporters Without Borders (Paris)
For Immediate Release:
July 26, 1996
(212) 465-1004 x-105
Press Freedom Groups Urge Algerian Government to Release Political Cartoonist, End Ban on His Newspaper
NEW YORK-- Two international organizations that defend press freedom, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF), today demanded the release of Chawki Amari, a cartoonist with the independent Algerian daily La Tribune, and called on the government to end legal proceedings against two of his colleagues from the paper.
The trial of Amari, Kheireddine Ameyar, La Tribunes publisher, and Baya Gacemi, the editor in chief, will begin on Monday, July 29. Amari was arrested at his home in Algiers on the morning of July 4. He is charged with desecrating a national emblem for drawing a cartoon, published on July 2, which depicted the Algerian flag in a satiric manner. If convicted of this offense, Amari could be sentenced to up to ten years in prison. On July 10, an examining magistrate denied Amaris request for bail. He is being held at Serkadji prison.
On July 3, La Tribunes offices were sealed and Ameyar and Gacemi were placed under judicial supervision and ordered to appear before the court twice a week.
Publishers of independent newspapers in Algeria yesterday denounced the detention of Amari and the suspension of La Tribune and called for an end to press censorship. Algerian journalists, who for three years have been the targets of an assassination campaign by extremists, held a one-day strike on July 15 to demand Amaris release and the reopening of La Tribune.
CPJ and RSF consider the imprisonment of Amari and the suspension of La Tribune to be grave violations of press freedom. And we believe that government censorship, which forces the press to print government propaganda as news, jeopardizes journalists who face a constant threat of assassination by terrorists.
CPJ and RSF join our Algerian colleagues in calling on the government of Algeria to demonstrate its commitment to freedom of the press by:
- Immediately releasing Chawki Amari
- Ending legal proceedings against Kheireddine Ameyar and Baya Gacemi
- Lifting the suspension of La Tribune and
- Ending government press censorship
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