On October 24, 2017, the case of Merzoug Touati was referred to the criminal court of first instance. The blogger's lawyers filed an appeal on 9 November 2017 in cassation before the Indictment Division of the Supreme Court.
Detained since 17 January pending trial for posting a Skype interview with an Israeli citizen on his blog, Touati is facing a possible 20-year sentence on a charge of complicit relations with a foreign power.
He should have been questioned by an investigating judge on 3 October but his weak condition prevented him from answering the judge’s questions. A few weeks ago, the same judge rejected his request for a conditional release. He also refused to interview witnesses who could provide information about the case.
Touati began his hunger strike on 13 September in protest against the judge’s refusals and has been getting steadily weaker ever since. According to his family, he has lost more than 10 kilos.
“We fear for Merzoug Touati’s life after 25 days on hunger strike, which is 25 days too many,” RSF said. “How many more sacrifices will be needed before someone heeds the cry of alarm from this young, 25-year-old blogger, who is being punished for exercising the right to inform?
“We condemn the disproportionate natures of the charges and the possible sentence he is facing and we call on the Algerian authorities to respect international standards regarding due process.”
Algeria is ranked 134th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.