Abdessamia, a correspondent for the daily Mon Journal and its Arabic counterpart, Djaridati, was held in administrative detention and accused of participating in the allegedly illegal departure of his editor, Hicham Aboud, from the country, according to his lawyer, colleagues, and family.
Abdessamia’s lawyer, Mohamed al-Gawasemeh, told CPJ that Abdessamia was at first accused of “smuggling immigrants,” which is a criminal offense, as well as “facilitating smuggling,” a misdemeanor. In April 2014, al-Gawasemeh said, an investigative judge dropped the “smuggling immigrants” allegation, but kept the journalist under investigation for the misdemeanor, which carries up to three years in prison. Al-Gawasemeh told CPJ that authorities refused four requests to release the journalist.
Mon Journal and Djaridati were shut down in late 2013 after covering President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s deteriorating health, news reports said. An Algerian prosecutor also ordered a judicial investigation into Aboud, owner and editor of Mon Journal and Djaridati, accusing him of “endangering state security, national unity, stability and proper functioning of institutes.”
Aboud told CPJ that the allegations against Abdessamia stem from an August 2013 meeting between the two in which they discussed opening a branch for the publications in the city of Tébessa.
In early June 2013, Aboud was forbidden from traveling to a conference in Tunisia, he said. Then, in late June, an investigative judge dismissed the investigation against him, he said. Aboud told CPJ that after he met with Abdessamia in August, he crossed the border into Tunisia. He said he crossed legally and that his passport held exit and entry stamps.
Abdessamia was being held at Tebessa prison. He began waging a hunger strike in early November to protest his detention, according his family and news reports. No trial date was set for him in late 2014, according to his lawyer.
CPJ did not include Abdessamia’s case in its 2013 imprisoned census because news of his arrest was only reported by his family in November 2014. His lawyer, Mohamed al-Gawasemeh, told CPJ that authorities warned Abdessamia’s family not to publicize his imprisonment.