An Algerian court confirmed media director Ihsane El Kadi’s provisional detention at a hearing on 15 January without his lawyers being present, thereby violating his defence rights and providing yet further evidence that he is being subjected to judicial and political persecution, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says.

El Kadi’s family, colleagues and defence collective were stunned by the manner in which the court confirmed the 29 December decision ordering his detention in an investigation into “illegal fund-raising” and “endangering state security.”

One of his lawyers voiced “total incomprehension.” His lawyers had been told the hearing would be held on 18 January and, as they had not been notified of the change, they were not in court to present the defence’s arguments.

A member of the defence collective said: “The law clearly states that we, the lawyers, must be notified in writing of the date of the court’s examination of the appeal in order to prepare ourselves and be present to submit arguments to the court’s judges. This was a violation of the right of defence.”

“This flouting of the law is additional proof, if any were necessary, of the way the authorities are persecuting Ihsane El Kadi and trampling on his rights,” said Khaled Drareni, RSF’s North Africa representative. “This journalist’s continued arbitrary detention and the grossly unfair proceedings to which he is being subjected are intolerable. He must be released. Algeria’s jails must not be used to silence the voices of independent journalists.”

The director of Radio M and Maghreb Émergent, El Kadi is charged with “using funds received from inside and outside the country to carry out acts liable to undermine state security, national unity, territorial integrity, the interests of Algeria and public order.”

El Kadi denies all the charges, as do his supporters, who rightly continue to think he was arrested on 24 December because of his recent articles and because of a tweet on 23 December in which he disputed something Algeria’s president had said.

The day after El Kadi’s arrests, the police raided and closed Interface Médias, the media company that operates Radio M and Maghreb Émergent. These two media outlets report that they have not been accessible online since 15 January “in certain parts of Algeria and via various Internet providers (ADSL and mobile).”

El Kadi’s arrest on 24 December and transfer to prison five days later have triggered a big outcry and a major international support campaign, waged inter alia by RSF, which referred the case to the United Nations and organised a joint appeal for his release by 16 international media owners and editors, including Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021.

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