Algeria: Crackdown on Bloggers, Journalist Intensifies

Algerian authorities are multiplying arrests of bloggers and journalists critical of the government.

Merzoug Touati, chief blogger for al-Hogra is the latest victim of the Algerian regime. He was arrested on January 18 in his hometown of Bejaia, following an outbreak of civil disobedience in the town, the New Arab reports.

Police raided his house and seized his computer. He has been charged for criticising authorities.

Touati on January 9 published an interview with an Israeli official indicating that the North African country housed, until 2000, an unofficial Israeli embassy contrary to the state’s claims.

Another blogger, Arezki Merouane, from Burj Bou Aririj was arrested on January 7 for inciting protest and insulting a state body, the London-based Qatari media reports.

The blogger is known for his critical stance against the Algerian government. He was member of the Algerian Organization against Sycophants, a group very critical of the state.

The Algerian regime has been in crusade against freedom of speech activists including private media not friendly with the regime.

Reporters without Borders has recently laid into the Bouteflika regime for serious violation of freedom speech. Journalists and blogger are working under constant state threat, the NGO said.

Algerian-British freelance journalist and blogger Mohamed Tamalt died in hospital in December after he went on a long hunger strike. He was protesting the 2-year prison sentence he was served for defamation.

He was arrested in June 2016 and jailed for offense against the President after he posted a critical poem on facebook. He was also fined 200,000 Algerian dinars.

His arrest alarmed human rights organizations which called Algiers to stop arbitrary lockdown of journalists.

“No speech is safe in Algeria if a poem on Facebook can get you two years in prison,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, a director at Human Rights Watch.

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