Abdelmoundji Khelladi, a blogger and freelance reporter, is detained in the Algerian city of Constantine on accusations that he used social media platforms to disrupt national unity. Authorities arrested the journalist while he was covering protests.
Khelladi reports for the regional independent news websites Sasa Post and the U.K.-based privately-owned Al-Magharibia TV, according to Khaled Drareni, a journalist and press freedom advocate. Khelladi covers politics and events including protests that started in February 2019 that called for new presidential elections. The journalist covers the same issues on his blog and on social media, including his YouTube channel. The journalist’s Twitter and Facebook accounts were no longer accessible when CPJ tried to view them in late 2019.
On October 7, 2019, plainclothes security officers arrested Khelladi while he was covering a protest in Constantine for his blog and social media channels, Abdelmounen Chadi, the journalist’s lawyer, told CPJ.
On October 12, a judge at the Constantine Court ordered Khelladi to be held pending trial on charges of using social media platforms to disrupt national unity, Chadi told CPJ. On October 15, the Penal Chamber of the Constantine Court rejected Khelladi’s appeal to be released pending the investigation, according to a post on Twitter by Drareni, news reports, and Chadi.
On October 23, the French satellite operator, Eutelsat, stopped broadcasting Al-Maghrabia TV, according to news reports. In a letter to the broadcaster, published by the BBC, Eutelsat said that the Algerian government had written to the operator informing it that Al-Maghrabia TV was not licensed or authorized to broadcast in Algeria, and that Eutelsat “has to comply with the Algerian laws.” The station had broadcast footage of the anti-government protests, according to news reports. Al-Magharibia TV said that it believes that the Algerian government ordered the suspension amid a crackdown on media outlets with opposing views, the BBC reported. Al-Maghrabia did not return CPJ’s messages requesting comment.
Khelladi is in a detention facility in Constantine, and his health is stable, Chadi told CPJ.