Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Algerian authorities to free Rabah Karèche, the newspaper Liberté's correspondent in Tamanrasset, 900 km south of Algiers, who has been held since 19 April after covering protests by the Ahaggar region's Tuareg population against new territorial divisions.
A Tamanrasset criminal court today denied a request for Karèche's release that was submitted by his lawyers.
"The decision to continue detaining Rabah Karèche is incomprehensible," said Souhaieb Khayati, the head of RSF's North Africa desk. "We call for his immediate release and the withdrawal of all the charges against this journalist, who was just doing his job to report the news."
Karèche is facing up to ten years in prison on charges of "creating an electronic account dedicated to spreading information likely to cause segregation and hatred in society," "deliberately spreading false information likely to endanger public order," and "using various means to undermine national security and unity."
One of Karèche's lawyers, Amirouche Bakouri, told RSF he regarded his detention as "exceptional," even for Algeria, and described Article 54 of the Algerian constitution, protecting press freedom, as "nothing more than a political speech and a shop window for the international community."
Article 54 guarantees the freedom of the "print, broadcast and social media" but limits it to "the right to disseminate information, ideas, images and opinions within the framework of the law and respect for the constants and religious, moral and cultural values of the nation."
Algeria is ranked 146th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.