Urgent Action: FREE JOURNALIST SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS (Algeria: UA 37.23)
April 12, 2023
On 2 April, the tribunal of Sidi M’hamed in Algiers convicted prominent Algerian journalist Ihsane El Kadi to five years in prison, of which two suspended, a fine of 700,000 Algerian dinars (around USD 5,150), and ordered the dissolution of his media company, one of the last media outlets in the country, and a fine of 10 million Algerian dinars (around USD 73,862). He was convicted on charges of “receiving funds for political propaganda” and “harming the national security of the state”, solely for investing money sent to him by his daughter into his media company and exercising his work of journalist. His conviction is a clear violation of his right to freedom of expression and the latest example of the Algerian authorities tightening their grip on critical voices and the independent media. He must be released immediately and unconditionally, and his conviction must be quashed.
Please take action as-soon-as possible. This Urgent Action expires on June 6, 2023.
Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
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President of the Republic of Algeria, Abdelmagid Tebboune
Présidence de la République
Place Mohammed Seddik Benyahia, El Mouradia, Alger, 16000 Algèrie
Fax: +213 02169 15 95
Email: [email protected]
Ambassador Mohammed Haneche Embassy of the People’s
Democratic Republic of Algeria
2118 Kalorama Rd. NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 265 2800 I Fax: 202 986 5906
Email: [email protected]
I am writing to express my deep concern about the sentencing of journalist Ihsane El Kadi to five years in prison and a fine of 700,000 Algerian dinars (around USD 5,150) on trumped up and vague charges which are being used to criminalize journalism.
On 2 April, the Sidi M’hamed first instance tribunal in Algiers convicted Ihsane El Kadi on charges of “receiving funds for political propaganda” and “harming the national security of the state”, under Articles 95 and 95 bis respectively of the Penal Code. According to his lawyer, these charges relate to money which his daughter sent to him and which he invested into his media company – something which is not a criminal offense under Algerian law. The court presented no evidence that Ihsane El Kadi’s media company creates political propaganda nor that it is harmful to state security, meaning the charges against him are unfounded.
On 2 April, the Tribunal of Sidi M’hamed also ordered the dissolution of Ihsane El Kadi’s media company “Interface Media”, which encompasses Radio M and Maghreb Emergent, and that it pays for damages to the Algerian audio-visual regulatory body a fine of 10 million dinars (around 73,862 USD), following the authorities’ launching a civil lawsuit against Interface Media for “exploiting an audiovisual communication service without authorization”. This is the latest in a long line of examples of Algerian authorities limiting media freedom and punishing dissenting voices.
Plainclothes security officials arrested Ihsane El Kadi in his home, without a warrant, on 24 December 2022. His arrest came just after he published an article on his predictions for the next presidential elections in 2024 and outlining the role of the Algerian army in repressing freedom of expression in Algeria. The Algerian authorities have previously targeted Ihsane El Kadi several times through judicial harassment and interrogations about his journalism. Ihsane El Kadi remains detained in El Harrach prison in Algiers.
I urge you to immediately and unconditionally release Ihsane El Kadi and quash his conviction. I further demand that you end the targeted crackdown and censorship of independent media and journalists in Algeria through vaguely worded articles of the Penal Code which are used to violate the right to freedom of expression.