Algiers journalist arrested, TV channel told to stop working
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Algerian authorities to stop obstructing the media’s work after they arrested a journalist on suspicion of providing video footage of protests to foreign media outlets, including Al Jazeera, and ordered an Algerian TV channel to suspend its activities.
Sofiane Merrakchi, who is a reporter for Al Mayadeen TV and at the same time a producer for several foreign TV channels including France 24 and RT, was arrested on 22 September by gendarmes, who searched his office in Algiers.
A former Algerian public radio journalist, Merrakchi is suspected by the security services of having filmed a demonstration for Al Jazeera, whose coverage of the past few months of protests has repeatedly been criticized by the authorities. He was due to be brought before prosecutors.
Al Araby TV, an Algiers-based Arabic-language TV channel was ordered to stop working on 22 September after it broadcast a report about the 20 September protests showing placards criticizing Gen. Ahmed Gaied Salah, Algeria’s strongman since President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s resignation in April.
“Ever since the start of the protests eight months ago, the Algerian authorities have constantly harassed journalists and media outlets,” said Souhaieb Khayati, the head of RSF’s North Africa desk. “Trying to steer the media’s coverage of events is unrealistic. The authorities must top obstructing the work of the media and foreign correspondents, who are just doing their jobs as reporters.”
Algeria is ranked 141st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.