Mustapha Bendjama, editor-in-chief and director of local independent news website Le Provincial, is serving a six-month prison sentence for “committing an illegal immigration crime.”
On November 7, a court in the eastern city of Constantine convicted Bendjama of allegedly helping Amira Bouraoui flee to France earlier this year, according to news reports. Bouraoui, who is banned from traveling outside of Algeria, denied that Bendjama had any connection to her traveling out of the country.
Bendjama has been in custody since police arrested him on February 8, 2023 from his office in Annaba, in northeast Algeria. On August 29, a court sentenced him to two years in prison on charges of receiving foreign funding to commit acts against public order and publishing classified information in a separate case.
On October 26, a Constantine court reduced Bendjama’s two-year sentence in the foreign funding case to 20 months – eight months in prison and 12 months suspended, meaning he would be released immediately, according to news reports. Instead, Bendjama was held in custody and convicted again on November 7 in the immigration case.
Bendjama is being held in el-Kedia prison in Constantine, according to the local journalist, who added that on October 3, Bendjama started a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment, and has lost a lot of weight since then.
In late 2023, CPJ emailed the Algerian ministries of interior and justice for comment on Bendjama’s case but received no response.