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For Immediate Release
13 August, 1996

Contact: Vikram Parekh
Phone: (212) 465-1004 x-109

CPJ Condemns Assassination of Algerian Radio Host

Committee Says Mohamed Guessab is 59th Journalist Killed in Algeria Since 1993

NEW YORK-- The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a nonpartisan advocate of press freedoms, vigorously condemned yesterday's murder of Mohamed Guessab, a host with the religious program "Radio Koran" on the state-run national radio. Guessab was the seventh journalist murdered in Algeria this year and the 59th victim of an ongoing campaign targeting the Algerian media for assassination.

"This murderous campaign against journalists in Algeria is the most lethal documented by CPJ in the last ten years," said Avner Gidron, CPJ's research director.

Guessab and his two brothers were driving yesterday in the Algiers suburb of Beau Fraisier, when unidentified men sprayed their car with gunfire. Guessab and one of his brothers were killed; the other brother was seriously wounded. Before joining "Radio Koran" in 1991, Guessab had worked for Radio Mitidja, an Algiers radio station. No group has claimed responsibility for the killing. But Islamic fundamentalist rebels are presumed responsible. The Armed Islamic Group (GIA) has claimed responsibility for the bulk of journalists' slayings in Algeria.

As many as 40,000 people have died in the Algerian conflict. But the 59 journalists killed since May 1993 have all been deliberately targeted, not killed in crossfire, in a concerted campaign to assassinate secular intellectuals and professionals.

While the greatest threat to the journalistic profession comes from armed opponents of the government, the regime itself has done much to hinder the work of journalists. Last month Algerian editors were ordered by the government to submit all unofficial reports about violence to a censor. Newspapers are only allowed to carry stories about the security situation that have been supplied by the official Algerian Press Service. Since the army interrupted the electoral process in January 1992 to prevent a victory by the fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in parliamentary elections, many independent journalists have been dragged to court, newspapers have been suspended, and the state's monopoly on printing has been used to intimidate publishers.

Further information about the Algerian press is available in CPJ's annual report, Attacks on the Press in 1995. The report documents in detail the assassination of Algerian journalists by extremists and instances of government censorship of the press.

Attached is a list, documented by CPJ, of the 59 journalists killed in Algeria since May 1993.

59 Journalists Murdered in Algeria Since 1993
Muslim fundamentalist rebels are believed to be responsible for a majority of these assassinations.

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