RSF dumps 13,000 envelopes outside Algerian embassy in Paris, symbolising signatures on petition for journalist’s release

Three days before a verdict is expected in imprisoned journalist Ihsane El Kadi’s trial in Algiers, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) deposited 13,000 envelopes outside the Algerian embassy in Paris on 30 March, symbolising the 13,000 signatures on the #FreeIhsaneElKadi petition calling for his immediate release.

“On 2 April, Ihsane El Kadi could be sentenced to five years in prison and a heavy fine at the request of the Algerian prosecutor’s office. This is absurd given that the prosecution case is devoid of supporting evidence. We are gathered outside the embassy today to remind the Algerian authorities that thousands of people all over the world are calling for Ihsane El Kadi’s acquittal. We will not allow the Algerian authorities to silence his free and independent voice. It’s time to end this persecution.

Antoine Bernard
RSF advocacy and assistance director

Thirteen boxes, each containing 1,000 envelopes, were deposited by RSF staff outside the embassy to symbolise the 13,000 signatures gathered by the #FreeIhsaneElKadi petition since it was posted on the RSF site just a few weeks ago, at the end of January – each signature representing another voice calling for El Kadi’s release.

The embassy invited RSF’s representatives to request a formal meeting with ambassador Said Moussi to discuss the subject.

The hearing on 2 April at which a verdict is expected will be one week after the main trial hearing on 26 March, at which the prosecutor requested a five-year prison sentence for El Kadi and the confiscation of all his assets. El Kadi heads Interface Médias, a company that owns a radio station (Radio M) and a business news website (Maghreb Émergent). The requested sentence is absurd as the prosecution produced no hard evidence to support its case.

The arrest of El Kadi, who has been subjected to growing political and judicial harassment for years, triggered an international outcry. A joint appeal for his release was issued in early January by 16 international media owners and editors, including Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021. RSF has also referred his case on an urgent basis to Irene Khan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression, and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

The number of signatures on the #FreeIhsaneElKadi petition currently stands at over 13,200.

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