Dozens of Algerians protested arbitrary arrests and sentences against activists in Geneva on Sunday, seeking democracy and reforms in their country.
Rabat – A court in Algeria sentenced on Monday journalist Abdelkrim Zeghileche, director of a local online radio station, to two years in prison on charges related to posts he made on social networks.
Zeghileche’s posts promoted creating a new political party, the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees reported.
The court sentenced the journalist for insulting the president of the Algerian republic and for publications that could “undermine national unity,” according to his lawyer, Djamel Aissiouane.
The man also has to pay a fine of DZD 100,000 ($778).
The journalist’s lawyer, Djamel Aissiouane described Zeghilech’s file to AFP as “empty.”
The prosecutor of the court of Constantine, 338 kilometers east of Algeria’s capital of Algiers, requested a prison sentence of three years for the journalist.
Zeghilech was in custody since June 23.
The sentence comes amid protests and condemnatory statements from international activists. Observers are challenging the arbitrary arrest of journalists and demonstrators who participated in the Algerian Hirak movement.
On August 23, dozens of Algerians gathered at Place des Nations, in front of the UN headquarters in Geneva, to denounce the arbitrary arrests of demonstrators in the country.
The Collective of Friends of the Manifesto for a New Algeria (CAMAN) also condemned the “repression and instrumentalization” of the judiciary against activists involved in the protests.
Earlier this month, Algeria jailed another journalist, Khaled Drareni, to three years in prison over protest coverage.
The US State Department’s 2019 human rights report cited several concerns, including reports of “one unlawful or arbitrary killing; arbitrary detention; political prisoners.”
Other human rights issues include laws prohibiting “certain forms of expression,” limits on freedom of the press, and restrictions on the freedom of assembly and association.
The report also shows human rights abuses related to deportation of refugees to “a country where they would face a threat to their life or freedom.”