Six journalists are seen following their release from detention in Algiers, Algiera, on May 11, 2021. (Photo: Feriel Bouaziz)

Algerian authorities briefly detain at least 6 journalists covering protests

On May 11, 2021, Algerian security forces briefly detained at least six journalists in downtown Algiers, the capital, while they were covering anti-government protests, according to news reports and Bouzid Ichalalene and Mustapha Bendjama, two local journalists and press freedom advocates, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

According to those sources, police arrested:

  • Khaled Drareni, director of the independent news website Casbah Tribune
  • Mustapha Bastami, a reporter for the independent news website Al-Khabar
  • Sami Kharoum, a photographer for the independent daily Al-Watan
  • Feriel Bouaziz, a reporter for the independent news website Interlignes
  • Abdessemad Titraoui, a reporter for the independent news website Tariq News
  • Hakim Hammiche, a photographer for Tariq News

Police held the journalists for about five hours, and released them all without charge, according to Drareni, Bouaziz, and Titraoui, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app, and a tweet by Interlignes.

Those journalists told CPJ that they did not know the exact reason for their arrests, saying they were just covering the protests and police did not accuse them of any specific violations. Ichalalene and Bendjama told CPJ that they believed security forces arrested the journalists to intimidate them and prevent coverage of the protests.

The Algerian Ministries of Interior and Communication did not respond to CPJ’s emailed requests for comment.

Authorities have repeatedly arrested journalists, blocked news websites, and rescinded press accreditations to limit coverage of the protests, which began in 2019 with calls for former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down, and are now calling for the formation of a new government, as CPJ has documented.

Also on May 11, the United Nations released a statement urging Algerian authorities to stop the arbitrary arrests of journalists and protestors.