Benaoum, CEO of Errai al-Aam, a media company that publishes three papers, was jailed on what several Algerian journalists described as spurious charges of business fraud that were designed to punish him for his efforts to expose local corruption. CPJ is seeking more details about the case.
In July 2004, a criminal court in Oran, Algeria’s second-largest city, sentenced Benaoum to two months in prison for defamation. His company published the Arabic-language daily Errai (The Opinion), the French-language daily Le Journal de l’Ouest (Journal of the West), and the French-language weekly Detective until August 2003, when the journals ceased publication because the company was unable to pay debts owed to the state-owned printer.
The defamation charges stemmed from several 2003 articles in Errai that accused Oran’s police chief of financial mismanagement and corruption. Several other defamation cases were also filed against Benaoum. He was freed on the defamation charge after completing his term.