In an open letter published in Le Monde, the union calls on Tebboune to put an end to censorship and release the imprisoned journalists

Journalists rebel against Tebboune's arrests

PHOTO/Russian Foreign Ministry via REUTERS - Abdelmadjid Tebboune
photo_camera PHOTO/Russian Foreign Ministry via REUTERS - Abdelmadjid Tebboune

"Algeria is a big cell that devours critical journalists," reads the letter. Faced with the constant censorship, slander, insults and arrests that journalists as a whole are suffering, emblems of the profession in France have said enough is enough. The signatories were clear: "The gradual transformation of Algeria into a great dungeon that devours critical journalists and all voices that are not loyal to authority".

The communiqu茅 was signed by the American linguist Noam Chomsky, the French philosopher Etienne Balibar, the academic and member of the support networks of the Algerian Liberation Front during the War of Independence Joyce Bleu, Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury, Moroccan poet Abdellatif Laabi and Tunisian philosopher Youssef Siddiq, Nobel Prize winner Annie Ernault, British filmmaker Ken Loach, Cameroonian historian Akhil Mbembe and Indian novelist Arundhati Roy.

"Algeria is more than a place; it is an idea. The notion of stubborn liberation still inspires hope in the hearts of all those who struggle against oppression sixty years after independence. Today this great country is being closed as a massive trap for politicians, opponents and anyone who dares to dream of the rule of law in a practical way," they claimed.

AFP/RYAD KRAMDI - Un grupo de manifestantes desfila por las calles de Argel
AFP/RYAD KRAMDI - A group of demonstrators parade through the streets of Algiers

That Algeria is a country that represses and censors information about the government was an open secret and journalists have decided to take matters into their own hands. The international data is in their favour. Algeria is ranked 136th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index. Moreover, the Algerian population's perception of government corruption is one of the highest in the world, which makes political scandals difficult to hide. Algeria ranks 116th out of 180 nations according to the corruption indexes of the Organisation for Transparency International (TI).

The letter states that Ihsane al-Qadi, a journalist, has been held in Algiers' El Harrach prison for more than five months "for no other reason than his refusal to submit to pressure from the rulers who seek to transform him into a fake journalist." "Ihsan al-Qadi, director of Radio M and the online publication Maghreb Emergen, was arrested by six soldiers on the night of 24 December 2022.

The security services took him away the next day so that he could be seen handcuffed, searched and the media he founded shut down. His co-workers and friends watched him sob as he was led like a criminal to the scene of the crime, an independent radio and news site.

PHOTO/TWITTER (@ElkadiIhsane) - El periodista argelino Ihsane El-Kadi, detenido a manos de la Direcci贸n General de Seguridad Interior de Argelia (DGSI)
PHOTO/TWITTER (@ElkadiIhsane) - Algerian journalist Ihsane El-Kadi, arrested by the Algerian Directorate General of Internal Security (DGSI)

Ihsan Al-Qadi was convicted of receiving funds from foreign parties with the intention of undermining state security and was sentenced to five years in prison, including three years, on 2 April 2023, following an investigation that was marred by flagrant violations of criminal procedure and defence law. June 2023 is the date the hearing has been set for him to agree to a possible appeal.

Ihsan al-Qadi, 64, is described in the note as "one of the symbols of the independent press in Algeria, just as his father, Bachir Kadi, was a veteran of the Algerian liberation movement", with the comment that "it is not surprising that his obstinacy in defending the independence of his profession was instilled in a soil that settled him on the principle of the sanctity of freedom, against the principle derived from the Algerian people's history of struggle".

"Ihsan al-Qadi is accused of betraying his country today, but when we look at his case from our remote location, we only see an independent journalist whose defence of his freedom is rooted in his love for his country," the letter continued. The signatories concluded: "You can, Mr. President Dot, release Ihsan al-Qadi and all prisoners of conscience and journalists, so use whatever your authorities authorise you to do, out of devotion to the Algerian struggle for justice and freedom".

In addition to the judge, many bloggers and journalists face prosecution and imprisonment for security reasons. Abdelmajid Tebboune, Algeria's president, said the NGOs' press freedom ratings were "selective and based on fabrications outside a meeting with representatives of the Algerian press in early May".

AFP/RYAD KRAMDI - El presidente de Argelia, Abdelmadjid Tebboune
AFP/RYAD KRAMDI - Algeria's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune

The Algerian president said outside a meeting with journalists at a celebration in honour of World Press Freedom Day that "to focus on Algeria, which is not a country of freedoms, press or otherwise, is a slander against Algeria". The prevailing belief among Algerian officials, Al-Arab reports, is that the nation is subject to "an international conspiracy involving a wave of foreign media flows to demoralise Algerians and undermine the credibility of the most sensitive state institutions".

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