The jail term received by Drareni, who is also the correspondent of the French TV channel TV5 Monde and editor of theCasbah Tribune news site, was one year less than the sentence sought at the start of his trial a week ago by the prosecution, which also asked for him to be stripped of his civil rights. Today’s sentence included a fine of 50,000 dinars (330 euros).
“We are appalled by the arbitrary, absurd and extremely harsh nature of this sentence,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “This is clearly a case of judicial persecution of a journalist who is a credit to his country. This decision by a justice system that follows orders has turned Khaled Drareni into a symbol that will trigger international outrage and a major international campaign for his release.”
Drareni was charged with “inciting an unarmed gathering” and “endangering national unity” because of his coverage of Algeria’s “Hirak” protest movement. During the trial, the prosecution also accused him of criticizing the Algerian political system on Facebook and
of reporting a call by a coalition of political parties for a general strike.
Detained ever since his arrest on 29 March, Drareni has always denied the charges, insisting that, “I just did my job as an independent journalist” and just exercised “my right to inform as a journalist and citizen.”
Two Hirak protest movement leaders who were tried with Drareni on the same charges were sentenced to only four months in prison, along with suspended sentences.
Drareni is not the first Algerian journalist to receive a prison sentence this year. Belkacem Djir, a reporter for the Echourouk News TV channel, was sentenced to three years in prison on 28 June on a charge linked to his investigative reporting.
Ali Djamel Toubal, a reporter for the Ennahar media group, was sentenced to 15 months in prison by an appeal court in the northwestern province of Mascara on 14 July, above all for posting video showing police mistreating anti-government protesters.
Algeria is ranked 146th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index, five places lower than in 2019 and 27 places lower than in 2015.