7 July 2017

Algeria: Journalist Jailed Pending Trial for 'Espionage'

New York — Algerian authorities should immediately release independent journalist and fixer Said Chitour and should drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Prosecutors charged Chitour--who has worked as a fixer and a journalist for the BBC, France 24, and the Washington Post, among others--with espionage for "leaking classified documents" to foreign diplomats, according to news reports. Police arrested him at Algiers International Airport on June 5 as he returned from Spain, according to media reports, but his arrest was not made public until after July 3, when diplomats from an unspecified country told journalists about it at a dinner organized by the U.S. Embassy in Algiers, according to the same media reports.

Mohand Tahar, Chitour's brother, told journalists that the Chitour denied the charges against him, and that Algerian security forces had summoned Chitour at least twice before and questioned him about his work with foreign journalists. Chitour knew that he "was on the [authorities'] radar," Tahar told journalists.

Neither Algerian Interior Ministry press officials nor diplomats at the Algerian Embassy to the United States immediately responded to CPJ's emails and phone calls requesting comment.

"Said Chitour's arrest on espionage charges appears to be an attempt to keep information about Algeria out of the international press," CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said. "We call on Algerian authorities to release Chitour, drop all charges against him, and to cease harassing and threatening journalists for their work."

Chitour's lawyer, Khaled Bourayou, told the Algerian news website Tout sur l'Algérie that Chitour did not leak any documents to foreign officials, and in any case did not have access to the kind of documents described in the relevant Algerian legislation. Bourayou did not respond to CPJ's repeated requests for further information.

Chitour is jailed in Algiers' El-Harrach Prison, pending trial before the Dar El Beida Court, media reports said. The media reports did not say whether a date had been set for his trial.

In January, Algerian authorities arrested Marzoug Touati, an editor for the news website Al-Hogra, and held him in administrative detention on charges of "talking to the agents of a foreign power with the intention of causing harm to Algeria's army, diplomatic relations, and financial interests," according to media reports.


Algeria Dump Ethiopia to Qualify for Ghana 2018

The Algerian women national side completed a double win over Ethiopia in the last round qualifier to cruise to the 2018… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2017 Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.