New York, December 27, 2022 – Algerian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Ihsane el-Kadi and allow the local independent broadcaster Radio M and news website Maghreb Emergent to work freely, the Committee to Protect journalists said Tuesday.
On December 24, plainclothes police officers arrested el-Kadi, editor-in-chief of both outlets, from his home in the city of Boumerdes, east of Algiers, according to a statement by Radio M, news reports, and local journalist Mustapha Bendjama, who is familiar with the case and spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
Officers brought el-Kadi to Maghreb Emergent and Radio M’s shared headquarters, confiscated computers and documents, and shuttered the outlets, according to those sources.
On the day of his arrest, authorities ordered el-Kadi to be detained for 48 hours; on December 26, authorities extended his detention for another 48 hours, according to Bendjama and a tweet by local journalist and press freedom advocate Khaled Drareni. As of Tuesday, December 27, el-Kadi remained at a police station in the suburbs of Algiers with no charges disclosed against him, and both outlets remained shuttered, Bendjama said.
“By arresting journalist Ihsane el-Kadi and shutting down Radio M and Maghreb Emergent, Algerian authorities are attacking some of the last independent voices in the country,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release el-Kadi, allow Radio M and Maghreb Emergent to resume operations, and cease their harassment of the press.”
The day before his arrest, el-Kadi discussed the likelihood of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune serving a second term in an episode of his radio program CPP, on Radio M. Also that day, el-Kadi also posted a tweet expressing doubt about Tebboune’s recent announcement that Algeria had recovered $20 billion dollars in an embezzlement case.
The websites of Radio M and Maghreb Emergent were briefly blocked in April 2020, after el-Kadi published an op-ed criticizing Tebboune’s first 100 days in office, as CPJ documented at the time.
CPJ emailed the Algerian Ministry of Interior for comment but did not receive any response.