Africa: Huge Portrait of Jailed Algerian Journalist Hung Beside Paris Ring Road

press release

In the presence of two well-known figures from the worlds of French music and art, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) today installed a gigantic portrait of its imprisoned Algeria correspondent, Khaled Drareni, overlooking Paris's Périphérique ring road.

Designed by Parisian street artist C215 and printed on a 320-square-meter tarpaulin (measuring 18 metres by 18 metres), the portrait was hung on the facade of a seven-storey building in Paris's 13th arrondissement that overlooks the Périphérique, which is said to be Europe's busiest urban motorway.

Today's installation took place exactly one month after an Algiers appeal court sentenced Drareni to two years in jail for covering the "Hirak" anti-government protests in Algeria. He has been imprisoned since the end of March.

"The size of this portrait matches the size of our determination to obtain Khaled's release - immense," RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. "We are happy and proud to see that the movement in support of this journalist is growing by the day and we thank the well-known artists and officials who have joined us today. Khaled Drareni's continuing detention is absurd and unjust. He just did his job as a journalist and his release is a matter of the utmost urgency."

As well as the street artist C215 , the other well-known figure from the world of music and art at today's installation was the singer, songwriter and guitarist Souad Massi. Each of them expressed full support for Drareni.

"I firmly condemn the arrests and harassment to which Hirak protesters are subjected in Algeria and, as an artist, I would also like to emphasize my unwavering attachment to freedom of expression and press freedom," Massi said. "Journalism is not a crime. It's the reason I support Khaled Drareni, who just did his job as a journalist and who is now the victim of an appalling injustice."

Represented by his first deputy, Eric Offredo, 13th arrondissement mayor Jérôme Coumet said: "I am proud to have this gigantic portrait of Khaled Drareni by C215 in Paris's 13th. We are committed to the defence of freedoms, including press freedom. I hope that this symbolic act will contribute to his release and that our message of support will reach him in his prison cell."

RSF expresses its deep gratitude to the social housing agencies RIVP, HÉNÉO and IN'LI for their logistic support for the operation.

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