An Algerian man reads a newspaper in the capital, Algiers, on April 12, 2018. Adlène Mellah, founder of online news outlets Dzair Presse and Algerie-Direct, was recently handed a six-month suspended prison sentence in Algiers (Ryad Kramdi/AFP)

Algerian journalist handed six-month suspended prison sentence

February 6, 2019 3:55 PM ET

On December 25, 2018, the Bab al-Oued court in Algiers sentenced Adlène Mellah, founder of online news outlets Dzair Presse and Algerie-Direct, to one year in prison on charges of "incitement of armed assembly" in response to his coverage of a gathering, according to news reports and his lawyer, Hassen Brahmi, who spoke to the Committee to Protect Journalists. At an appeal hearing at the Bab al-Oued court on January 23, 2019, Mellah's previous sentence was overturned; he was then given a six-month suspended sentence and was released, according to Brahmi and Algerian daily El Watan.

Security forces arrested Mellah on December 9 while he was covering a solidarity gathering in Algiers in support of imprisoned Algerian rapper Reda City 16, his lawyer told CPJ.

Mellah was detained in solitary confinement at al-Harrach prison until December 25, at which point he was sentenced by the Bab al-Oued court to one year in prison, according to his lawyer. He was returned to solitary confinement until his appeal hearing and subsequent release on January 23.

Mellah was deprived of heat and sleep during his detention, according to his lawyer.

The journalist was previously arrested in October 2018, and was held in al-Harrach prison from October 24 until November 22, Brahmi told CPJ. In that case, Mellah was charged by the Bab al-Oued court with defamation, making threats, and invasion of privacy for articles he published in Arabic in Dzair Presse and in French in Algerie-Direct, according to news reports.

From August to October, Mellah had published allegations of corruption concerning political and business figures in Algeria. Several of the subjects of his reporting were tied to the defamation charges filed in October, Brahmi told CPJ.

Mellah has another hearing concerning those charges scheduled on February 7, 2019, his lawyer said.

Mellah was also detained on May 29, 2018, according to Brahmi, following his reporting on a prominent businessman's connection with smuggling cocaine into Algeria. Brahmi told CPJ that Mellah was released on parole on June 4, and was banned from leaving the country; that ban is still active.

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