Journalist convicted for investigative article

New York, October 29, 2008–The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed that Algerian journalist Noureddine Boukraa has been convicted of disclosing “confidential” information after he reported that security officials may have used their positions for personal gain.

On Sunday, a court in the northeastern region of Annaba sentenced Boukraa to a thee-month suspended jail term and fined him 30,000 dinars (US$465) for “disclosing confidential information of an ongoing investigation,” according to the journalist and news reports.

The charge stems from a November 2007 piece in Al-Nahar that was based on multiple sources and documents such as written complaints, the journalist said. Boukraa told CPJ there was no evidence of any “ongoing investigation” into the actions of the security officials. Security officials in Annaba, who were the focus of the piece, immediately filed a criminal complaint.

Boukraa, who now works for Akhbar al-Jazair, said he would file an appeal.

“We’re distressed by this unfounded verdict against our colleague Nouraddine Boukraa,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We call on the appeals court to overturn the verdict.”

Boukraa originally faced two other charges–libel and damaging the reputation of the state. The court dismissed the other charges, Boukraa told CPJ.