The request for the provisional release of journalist Khaled Drareni, who has been in jail since the end of March and became the symbol of the fight for freedom of the press, was rejected on Wednesday by Algerian justice, according to the National Committee for the Release of Those Prisoners.
Khaled Drareni remains in custody. Algerian justice denied Wednesday, May 27, and the journalist asked for provisional release, in prison since late March, told the National Committee for the Detention of Prisoners (CNLD). Imprisoned in the Kolea Prison Center, west of Algiers, on March 29, pending trial, the journalist has become the symbol of the fight for freedom of the press.
“The prosecution in Algiers court upheld the denial of the request for the provisional release of detained journalist Khaled Drareni,” said Kaci Tansaout, CNLD spokesman, an association that supports detainees.
Ista Last Minutes:
Algiers Court of Appeals ‘rejects’ journalist Khaled Drareni’s request for preliminary release. pic.twitter.com/DuPXXJJlxH
– Free Khaled Drareni (@DrareniFree) May 27, 2020
Ending “targeted harassment of independent media”
Head of the online information site Casbah Tribune and correspondent for the French TV channel TV5Monde and NGO’s Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Algeria, Khaled Drareni is accused of “calling for an unarmed collection and attacking the integrity of the national territory”. The latter had covered, in early March in Algeria, a demonstration of “Hirak”, the popular anti-regime movement that shook Algeria for over a year until recently ceased because of the Covid-19 epidemic.
“Khaled Drareni did not commit a single crime in the Algerian Penal Code. He is a journalist who did his job. He is accused of filming the march on March 7” by “Hirak” in Algiers, told AFP one of its lawyers, MeMustapha Bouchachi.
“The conditions for putting someone in jail are not fulfilled,” the lawyer added. “However, he is in prison and no investigation has been carried out. I believe that the law is not respected by the justice system in Algeria.”
For its part, several NGOs on human rights and freedom of the press, Algeria and internationally, called on the Algerian authorities to release Khaled Drareni and put an end to “targeted harassment of independent media”.
A decline of 27 places compared to 2015, Algeria is showing this year at 146eplace (of 180) from 2020 press freedom ranking established by the RSF.
Nearly 50 prisoners of conscience and politicians in prison
Since the coronavirus pandemic began in March and the March cessation of the marches, human rights organizations have condemned the repression that is taking place, despite the health risks, against political opponents, journalists and independent media, but also against young Internet users who publish their opinions on Facebook.
According to CNLD’s last count, nearly 50 prisoners of conscience and politicians are still in prison. Among them, Hicham Sahraouia was sentenced on Wednesday to one year in prison, including six months suspended by the court in Ain Temouchent (west), according to CNLD.
In addition, Toufik Hassani, a famous former police officer in Algeria, was arrested on several occasions after taking a public position in favor of “Hirak” on Wednesday by the investigating judge at Tene’s prison (west of Alger)), where he has been jailed since his arrest, the same day as Khaled Drareni.
According to the Defense Committee, the Hassani case is still under investigation. He is charged with five crimes, in particular “for attacking the integrity of the national territory”, “direct provocation to an armed assembly” and “attack or violence against the security services”.
At the end of the investigation, the five bills can be retained. The reviewing magistrate may also order termination for each of them.