Algeria's boisterous press has been at odds with president Abdel Aziz Bouteflika since he took office in 1999. In 2001, the animosity took a more serious turn when the government promulgated harsh new press legislation.
In June, despite intense local and international protest, the Algerian Parliament approved a series of new amendments to the Penal Code that prescribe prison terms of up to one year and fines up to 250,000 dinars (US$3,200) for defaming the president. A separate amendment imposes similar punishments for defaming Parliament, the courts, the military, or other state institutions. Writers, publishers, and responsible editors are held accountable for offending articles, along with publications themselves, which can be fined up to 2.5 million dinars (US$32,000).