New York, May 24, 2018--In a one-day trial today, a criminal court in Béjaïa sentenced Algerian blogger Marzoug Touati to 10 years in prison and fined him 50,000 Algerian dinar (US$427) for communicating with a foreign entity and inciting civil disobedience, Touati's lawyer, Salah Dabouz, told CPJ. The conviction is related to Touati's interview with an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, which the blogger posted to the YouTube page of independent site al-Hogra in January 2017, according to news reports.
"This harsh sentence handed down to Marzoug Touati is a clear attack on press freedom in Algeria and authorities should overturn the conviction on appeal," said CPJ Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch. "Algeria must let its journalists operate without interference and report freely as a signal that it supports and is committed to an independent press."
Dabouz, who is also president of the Algerian human rights organization, Ligue Algérienne pour la Defense des Droits de l'Homme, told CPJ that Touati will appeal. Touati has been in custody since his arrest on January 18, 2017, according to CPJ research.