Algerian fixer completes 100th day in provisional detention

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by Algerian freelance journalist and fixer Saïd Chitour’s prolonged detention without trial. Chitour, who works for such international media as the BBC and Washington Post, completes his 100th day in detention today.

Arrested by intelligence agents at Algiers international airport on 5 June and incarcerated in the capital’s El Harrach prison, he is alleged to have passed confidential documents to foreign diplomats.

He is being held under article 65 of the penal code, which provides for “life imprisonment for anyone who, with the intention of passing them to a foreign power, gathers intelligence, objects, documents or processes whose compilation and use are liable to harm the nation’s defence or economy.”

The request for his release that his lawyer filed at the end of July has been rejected. No trial date has so far been set.

“One hundred days of provisional detention are 100 days too many, 100 days of incomprehension and injustice, because there are no grounds for keeping Saïd Chitour in prison,” RSF said. “When provisional detention is extended without any reason and without a trial date, the detention becomes arbitrary and the principle of the presumption of innocence is flouted. We call for Chitour’s immediate release.”

According to the authorities, no date has been set for a trial because they are still investigating the case. In a report entitled “Algeria, the invisible hand of power over the media,” RSF describes how the authorities use the threat of pre-trial detention to intimidate journalists, citizen-journalists and media workers.

Algeria is ranked 134th out of 180 countries inRSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 12.09.2017