Washington, D.C., August 6, 2020—Algeria’s state prosecutor called for a four-year sentence and a fine of 100,000 Algerian dinars ($788) for journalist Khaled Drareni during the journalist’s first hearing August 3, according to news reports.
“Algerian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release journalist Khaled Drareni, especially as there is no evidence he did anything except his job as a journalist,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Drareni’s detention and vague charges make a mockery of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s reform pledges and put the country back on an ugly path toward muzzling dissent.”
Drareni, a correspondent for global press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and co-founder of the news website Casbah Tribune, was arrested on March 27 and charged with inciting an unarmed assembly and harming national unity after covering anti-government protests, CPJ documented at the time. He is being held in Kolea prison outside Algiers, the capital, before his trial resumes on August 10, according to news reports.
CPJ emailed the Algerian Ministry of Interior for comment, but did not receive any response.