The Algerian journalist who was a key player in covering the country’s pro-democracy movement last year has been jailed for “endangering national unity” and “inciting an unarmed gathering”.
Khaled Drareni who is the editor of Casbah Tribune news website and correspondent of TV5 Monde and media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), was sentenced to three years in prison, his lawyer said.
He was sentenced to jail time and a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars ($389) after convicting him of inciting an unarmed assembly and harming national unity. The only evidence presented in the case were Drareni’s Facebook posts covering Algeria’s anti-government protest movement since February 2019, according to Mustapha Bendjama, a local journalist.
He strongly denied wrongdoing during the trial held by video conference. He claimed that he was actively doing his job as an independent journalist and exercising his right to inform as are the duties of Reporters Without Borders.
Drareni’s conviction was “arbitrary, absurd and violent,” the head of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, said in a statement. “This is clearly about the judicial persecution of a journalist who gives honor to his country,” said Mr. Deloire.
Algerians are highly displeased by his detainment and have taken it upon themselves to come together in a rally to demand his release. This rally hopes to draw international attention and consequently intervention so as to expedite the release of the French journalist.
Kenza Khatto, a journalist said, “The Khaled Drareni Support Committee today organized this rally for press freedom, for the freedom of Khaled Drareni who was, as we know, sentenced to three years in prison.” “Khaled Drareni, his place is not in prison, his place is in the newsroom of his site, his place is with his journalists. It is intolerable that he still remains in prison today.”