Benchicou, publisher of the French-language daily Le Matin, was sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted of violating the country’s currency laws in 2003. The sentence was widely viewed as retaliation for Le Matin’s critical editorial line against the government.
The case was launched in August 2003, after Le Matin alleged that Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni had tortured detainees while he was a military security commander in the 1970s. Benchicou, a frequent government critic, further angered officials in February 2004, when he published a book titled Bouteflika, An Algerian Fraud.
Dozens of other cases are pending against Benchicou, including lawsuits alleging that he defamed Bouteflika in articles published in Le Matin.