An Algerian journalist was sentenced Monday to two years in prison, his lawyer told AFP, in the latest trial of media and pro-democracy figures in the North African country.
Abdelkrim Zeghileche, head of a web-based independent radio station, Radio-Sarbacane, had been accused of posting on Facebook calls to create a new political party, his lawyer Djamel Aissiouane said.
The main charges against him were “endangering national unity” and “insulting the head of state,” according to Aissiouane.
Zeghileche has been in detention since June 24.
“Abdelkrim Zeghileche was sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of 100,000 dinars ($777),” Aissiouane told AFP, adding that “we will appeal.”
The prosecution in northeastern Constantine had called for three years’ prison for the journalist.
“Now, whenever any of Algeria’s opposition speaks, they label them as ‘endangering national unity’ in order jail them,” Aissiouane said.
Protesting over a separate case, Algerian journalists gathered Monday in the capital to demand the release of their colleague Khaled Drareni, who was sentenced earlier this month to three years in jail for “inciting an unarmed gathering” and “endangering national unity” after covering anti-government demonstrations.
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Drareni has become a symbol of the struggle for press freedom in the North African nation, and rights groups and journalism associations have sharply assailed his sentence.
Anti-government protests by what is known as the Hirak movement last year swept ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power but continued afterward, demanding the ouster of the entire state apparatus, reviled by many Algerians as inept and corrupt.
Weekly demonstrations rocked Algeria for more than a year and only came to a halt in March due to the coronavirus crisis.
The Algerian justice system has in recent months increased the court cases and convictions against alleged Hirak militants, opposition politicians, journalists, and social media users.
The growing crackdown on Algeria‘s press has drawn international condemnation.
Reporters Without Borders ranked Algeria 146 out of 180 countries and territories in its 2020 World Press Freedom Index.