Algeria: journalist Ihsane El Kadi must be included in ongoing pardon of over 8,000 prisoners

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced that he will pardon 8,094 prisoners to mark the country's Independence Day — yet it is completely unclear whether Ihsane El Kadi, director of Radio M and news site Maghreb Émergent, is among the beneficiaries. The continued imprisonment of this eminent journalist, arbitrarily arrested in December 2022, would be a blatant sign from the authorities. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for his immediate release and a full pardon.     

"The uncertainty surrounding Ihsane El Kadi’s pardon leaves a bad taste in our mouths, and must not darken the horizon for his release. This journalist has no business being in prison. Any sentence depriving him of his liberty, however long, is unjust. It's time to end the distress he and his family have endured for over 18 months. We call on the Algerian authorities to release him with a full pardon.

Khaled Drareni
RSF Representative in North Africa

The presidential decree — announced on 4 July, the day before Algerian Independence Day — could include Ihsane El Kadi in the list of beneficiaries. Yet five days later, at the time of this writing, El Kadi’s fate remains uncertain. He has been held in Harrach prison, in Algiers, since 29 December 2022.

Media owner jailed, his outlets silenced 

The media owner was sentenced during an appeal hearing in June 2023 to seven years in prison, five of them firm, for receiving foreign funds “for attempting or carrying out acts likely to jeopardize national security, the stability and functioning of state institutions, national unity, territorial integrity, Algeria’s fundamental interests, or public safety,” an accusation that was not substantiated during his trial. The foreign funds in question were sums sent by El Kadi’s daughter — who is based in London, and is also a shareholder in the Interface Médias group, the company behind Radio M and Maghreb Émergent — intended to pay employees' salaries. 

Both Radio M and Maghreb Émergent were forced to cease operations on 19 June, after the court ordered the dissolution of Interface Médias on 13 June 2024. The Algiers Court of Appeal also ordered the confiscation of Interface Médias’s assets, a fine of ten million Algerian dinars (around 70,000 euros), and that a compensation of one million dinars (around 7,000 euros) be paid to the Audiovisual Regulatory Authority.

RSF is leading a major international campaign to release El Kadi, who is respected in Algeria and abroad for his journalistic integrity, including:

  • RSF’s advocacy and assistance department referred the case to the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the Media Freedom Coalition. 
  • RSF also united sixteen editorial bosses from 14 countries, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitri Muratov, in calling for El Kadi’s freedom. 
  • The #FreeIhsaneElKadi petition launched by RSF has collected over 20,000 signatures from around the world, the first 13,000 of which were deposited in front of the Algerian embassy in Paris.        

Algeria ranks 139 out of 180 countries on RSF’s 2024 World Press Freedom Index.  

139/ 180
Score : 41.98
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