In Algeria, journalist Khaled Drareni was sentenced to three years in prison

Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni, who has been in prison since the end of March, was sentenced on Monday to three years in prison, the lawyer for his defense collective announced.

Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni, in custody since the end of March, was sentenced on Monday, August 10, to three years in prison, AFP M reported.e Nouredine Benissad, a lawyer from his defense collective.

“This is a very heavy sentence for Khaled Drareni. Three years of business. We are surprised. The document is empty,” said the lawyer, also chairman of Algeria for Human Rights (LADH).

On August 3, the prosecutor requested four years in prison against the director of the online news site Casbah Tribune, who is also a correspondent in Algeria for the French television channel Tv5 Monde and for the NGO’s Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

“This decision awakens the heart and the spirit through its arbitrary, absurd and violent nature.

Imprisoned since March 29 in the Kolea Penal Center, near Algiers, Khaled Drareni was accused of “employing an unarmed assembly” and “attacking national unity” after covering a March 7 demonstration in Algiers. of “Hirak”, the popular uprising that rocked Algeria for more than a year until its end a few months ago due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The indictment was unfounded. It’s a journalist’s job,” said Benissad, who is also president of Algeria for Human Rights (LADDH).

According to the same charges, the two accused were sentenced to Khaled Drareni, Samir Benlarbi and Slimane Hamitouche, two people in the protest movement against the regime, each to two years in prison, including four months in prison.

After already serving their sentences in custody, they will not return to prison.

During his video conference attempt, during which he seemed exhausted, 40-year-old Khaled Drareni denied the allegations against him.

He assured that he had only done his “job as a freelance journalist” and exercised “his right to inform”.

During the trial, he was accused of criticizing the political system on Facebook and of publishing a statement from a coalition of political parties in favor of a general strike, according to the RSF.

Many Hirak activists in prison

The conversation about letting go of the journalist has multiplied in recent weeks.

“The Algerian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Khaled Drareni, especially as there is no evidence that he did anything other than his profession as a journalist,” the committee said in order to protect journalists. (CPJ), US-based non-governmental organization.

“If Khaled Drareni is not released and released in the coming weeks, we will strive to let the public know the reality of the repression in Algeria and to mobilize international organizations and governments,” the RSF promised before the verdict.

The French-language daily El Watan described the announcement of the verdict as “a major test of the current political-judicial power”. “Either he shows a sincere desire to open a new era of political satisfaction, or he remains frozen in the current bad status quo, whose main mark is the attack on freedom of expression,” the newspaper estimated in a new editorial.

Algerian justice has increased in recent months legal proceedings and beliefs about “Hirak” activists, political opponents, journalists and bloggers. Some journalists have been accused by the regime of sowing discord, threatening national interest and paying “foreign parties”.

Several are in prison and trials are ongoing.

Algeria is in 146th place (out of 180) in the 2020 world-free press freedom ranking established by RSF. She lost five places compared to 2019 (141) and 27 compared to 2015 (119th).

With AFP