Algeria: TV5 correspondent Khaled Drareni handed heavy prison sentence
An Algerian court this Monday sentenced French TV5 correspondent Khaled Drareni to three years in prison, TSA reports citing the defense lawyer.
Drareni, 40, who is also correspondent of Reporters without Borders (RSF) in the North African country, has been in detention since March for covering “Hirak”, the popular demonstrations against the Algerian regime.
The Sidi M’hamed court in capital Algiers opened Drereni’s trial last week and the prosecution requested four years against the freelance journalist and two co-defendants. The trio is accused of “inciting an unarmed gathering” and undermining the nation’s “territorial integrity”. Drereni has denied the charges.
Weekly “Hirak” demonstrations were banned in March after a state of emergency was decreed in connection with covid-19 pandemic.
The protests, which started in February last year, led to the resignation of the former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika who was forced by the army to step down in April the same year.
Thousands of Algerians showed up every Friday to demand an overhaul of the regime accused of corruption, mismanagement, and several other charges.
Hundreds of people, activists have been arrested as part of clampdown on the protests. Authorities also have stepped up crackdown on journalists whom they accuse of fueling protests and working with foreign agents to destabilize the country.
Another journalist, Moncef Aït Kaci, former France24 correspondent was rounded late last month. Kaci, according to several sources, is accused of “collaboration without license with a foreign television channel” and of receiving “external financing”.