Reporters Without Borders welcomes the release of Al-Waha editor Nedjar El-Hadj Daoud yesterday evening in the southern city of Ghardaïa, where he had been jailed on the morning of 2 March. The Algiers-based daily El Watan said he was released from the city's prison on medical grounds.
“A commission tasked with executing the court ruling decided to suspend the detention order,” Nedjar told Al-Watan.
03.03 Regional newspaper editor jailed for six months
Reporters Without Borders is very worried by the jailing of newspaper editor Nedjar El-Hadj Daoud in Ghardaïa (467 km south of Algiers). He was arrested in his office yesterday morning after a local court confirmed a six-month prison sentence for libel that was originally imposed in 2005. He edits Al-Waha, southern Algeria's only regional newspaper.
“We condemn this six-month jail sentence for defamation,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Nedjar has been the victim of judicial harassment for years for covering corruption and influence-trafficking. We again remind the Algerian authorities of the importance of amending the criminal code in order to decriminalize press offences.”
The six-month jail sentence was originally passed by a Ghardaïa court on 14 November 2005 as a result of a libel suit brought against Nedjar by a local government official over an article he had written for the newspaper. After another local court confirmed the sentence a few months later, Nedjar appealed to the supreme court.
The supreme court finally issued a ruling on 3 July 2008 refusing to consider his appeal and returning it to a court in Ghardaïa. It was this court which yesterday upheld the sentence and ordered Nedjar's arrest.
Nedjar is a target of constant judicial harassment and there are currently more than 20 lawsuits pending before the courts in Ghardaïa. Launched in 1990, Al Waha was forced to suspend publication in 2006 as a result of all the harassment.