A court in the Algiers district of Bir Mourad Rais agreed yesterday to a request by prosecutors that Chitour should be tried under article 65 of the criminal code on a charge of complicit relations with a foreign power, a charge that carries a possible life sentence. The case has been referred to a criminal court.
“We are appalled by this news,” RSF said. “Saïd Chitour is recognized nationally and internationally as a fixer and stringer who works for such prestigious international media outlets as the BBC, Washington Post and France 24. As his lawyers say the prosecution still has absolutely no evidence against him, we condemn yesterday’s decision and we continue to call for his release.”
Arrested by intelligence agents at Algiers international airport on 5 June, Chitour is alleged to have passed confidential documents to foreign diplomats. He is diabetic and has lost 20 kilos since his arrest. His family and colleagues are very worried about his health. RSF launched a petition for his release in October.
Algeria is ranked 134th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.