30 June 2016

Algeria: Two Reporters Banned From Covering Polisario Front Chief's Funeral

press release

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the decision by the Algerian authorities today (3 June) to prevent two newspaper reporters from flying to Tindouf (1,500 km southwest of Algiers) to cover Polisario Front leader Mohamed Abdelaziz's funeral.

El Watan reporter Rbaha Beldjena and El Khabar reporter Lahcèn Bourbia were turned away at Houari Boumedienne Airport in Algiers although other journalists were allowed to fly to Tindouf to cover the event.

Beldjena and Bourbia were referred to the prime minister's office when they asked the reason for the ban. But no questions would be addressed to the prime minister's office because today is a Friday and all government departments close on Friday in Algeria.

"Banning El Watan and El Khabar journalists from flying to Tindouf to cover the Polisario Front leader's funeral is extremely worrying," said Yasmine Kacha, the head of RSF's North Africa desk.

"Furthermore, this incident comes just two day after RSF met with communication minister Hamid Grine, who gave assurances that he would do what was necessary to ensure that freedom of information is respected in Algeria."

At the meeting in Algiers on 1 June, RSF told the communication minister what action it thought should be taken to end harassment of the Algerian media.

Algeria is ranked 129th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

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