New York, August 10, 2020 – In response to an Algerian court’s sentencing of journalist Khaled Drareni to three years in prison today, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“Khaled Drareni’s only crime was covering the news. He should not spend one day in jail for doing his job,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “This sentence is a sharp move in the wrong direction for Algeria. Authorities should release Drareni immediately, drop all charges against him, and allow him and all journalists to work freely.”
Earlier today, the Sidi M’Hamed Court in Algiers sentenced Drareni, a correspondent for international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders and co-founder of the independent news website Casbah Tribune, to jail time and a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars ($389) after convicting him of inciting an unarmed assembly and harming national unity, according to news reports.
The only evidence presented in the case were Drareni’s Facebook posts covering Algeria’s anti-government protest movement since February 2019, according to a report by Reporters Without Borders and Mustapha Bendjama, a local journalist and press freedom advocate familiar with the case, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
Drareni denied the charges and plans to appeal the verdict, Bendjama said. He has been held in pretrial detention at the Kolea Prison, outside of Algiers, since his arrest on March 27, as CPJ documented at the time.
CPJ emailed the Algerian Ministry of Interior for comment, but did not receive any response.