Become a symbol of the struggle for freedom of the press. Algerian independent journalist Khaled Drareni, sentenced to three years in prison, was tried again on Tuesday on appeal in Algiers and benefited from a very strong mobilization in favor of his release.
Khaled Drareni will be tried again on appeal on Tuesday, September 8. Sentenced to three years in prison and imprisoned since the end of March, the 40-year-old Algerian independent journalist will appear in the middle of the morning with a “video conference” from the Koléa prison center, near Algiers, where he is imprisoned. The date of the verdict is not known.
“I saw Khaled Drareni two days ago, he is in a good mood, he is convinced. If the court in Algiers applies the law, it can only pronounce his acquittal,” one of his lawyers said on Monday. , Mustapha Bouchachi, who asked for his release immediately.
Strong mobilization of support
Since his conviction, demonstrations of solidarity and calls for the release of Khaled Drareni have multiplied outside Algeria’s borders. A citizen application requesting his release has already received more than 3,000 signatures in Algeria and abroad.
On Monday, journalists and human rights activists gathered in Paris, Algiers and Tunis and chanted “Free Khaled!”.
“I urge the Algerian authorities to release my colleague Khaled Drareni immediately and unconditionally,” French journalist Edwy Plenel, president of Mediapart, said in a video published by Amnesty International.
Khaled Drareni is a journalist imprisoned in Algeria just for doing his job.
Journalists from all over the world responded to his release! pic.twitter.com/8PsEfhv9rV
– Amnesty France (@amnestyfrance) September 7, 2020
“The Algerian authorities wanted to set a good example by intimidating all journalists in Algeria,” commented RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire. “And he made it a symbol of the defense of freedom of the press,” he said.
Christophe Deloire took part in a demonstration on Monday in front of the Algerian embassy in Paris, which gathered several French journalists, including Laurent Delahousse, Harry Roselmack, Guy Lagache or Bernard de la Villardière.
Khaled Drareni’s case has been traced back to the UN, the European Union and the African Union (AU) who have expressed their “concern”.
Khlaed Drareni, director of the Casbah Tribune news site and correspondent in Algeria for the French-speaking channel TV5 Monde and for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), was sentenced on August 10 to three years in prison and fined 50,000 dinars (330 euros) for “calling for unarmed assembly “and” attack on national unity “. A verdict of unparalleled severity against a journalist.
“The right to inform”
He was arrested in Algiers on March 7 when he covered a demonstration of “Hirak”, the popular uprising that shook Algeria for more than a year until his suspension a few months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He is also accused of criticizing the political system on Facebook and publishing a statement by a coalition of political parties for a general strike, according to the RSF. During his trial, Khaled Drareni denied the allegations. He assured that he had only done his “job as a freelance journalist” and exercised “his right to inform”.
His appeal trial takes place in a climate of tension against independent media, “Hirak” activists and political opponents. In recent months, journalists have been accused by the regime of sowing discord and “undermining”, of threatening national interest and, in particular, of paying “foreign parties”.
Khaled Drareni’s group of lawyers condemned in a statement “repeated media outbursts by the executive” that “undermine the presumption of innocence and separation of powers”, and he paralyzed “the pressure on judges who are affected”.
Several Algerian journalists are in prison and other trials are underway. Algeria is in 146th place (out of 180) in the 2020 press freedom ranking established by RSF. It has lost 27 places in five years.