The Algerian government is blocking the popular newspaper’s advertising revenue after it revealed an investigation into the fortune of General Ahmed Gaid Salah's sons.
Rabat – Popular Algerian newspaper El Watan is facing government reprisals over a story about the two sons of former army chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah.
The paper published a detailed story on August 27 revealing that Algeria’s security services were investigating the fortune of General Salah’s two sons, and that they were barred from leaving the country.
Salah died in December 2019, leaving behind a reputation as a notorious strongman in the regime of Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The El Watan story was major news, as Salah’s sons Abdel and Boumediene were considered “untouchable” because of their father’s senior role in the former regime.
El Watan followed up with an August 31 cover story on new facts in the case. The newspaper revealed that the two sons of Salah had amassed a “colossal fortune” which was under investigation by security services. The story contained much detail about a business that the two Salah sons ran in order to enrich themselves fraudulently.
The tale of greed and corruption was not well received by the Algerian government. Following the publication of the articles, the newspaper saw its advertising revenue suddenly fall. Government reprisals had blocked the outlet’s key source of funding in response to the Salah piece.
El Watan’s director Tayeb Belghiche confirmed to AFP that the popular daily “was deprived of public advertising after the publication of this article.” Belghiche likened the government move to “the days of Said and Abdelaziz Bouteflika,” calling the reprisals “intolerable pressures and blackmail.”
The reprisals against a major national newspaper are part of a larger Algerian campaign against the press. Journalists have been imprisoned and critics silenced under the shroud of COVID-19 measures. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s government appears to be falling back on tactics used by the Bouteflika regime in order to stifle dissent and limit press freedom during the pandemic.