New York — The Committee to Protect Journalists called for Algerian authorities to immediately release journalist Mustapha Bendjama on Wednesday, after a prosecutor requested that he be sentenced to three years in prison.
"By requesting a three-year prison sentence for journalist Mustapha Bendjama, the Algerian government is demonstrating its brutal intolerance for press freedom in the country," said CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour, in Washington, D.C. "Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Bendjama, drop all charges against him, and ensure that journalists can work freely without fear of imprisonment."
On February 19, authorities arrested Bendjama, editor-in-chief of local independent news website Le Provincial, and accused him of receiving foreign funding to commit acts against public order and publishing classified information.
At a court hearing in the eastern city of Constantine on Tuesday, August 22, prosecutors requested he be sentenced to three years and pay a fine of 100,000 Algerian dinars ($732). The verdict in his case is scheduled to be issued on August 29.
On June 18, an appeals court in Algiers increased imprisoned journalist Ihsane el-Kadi's sentence from five to seven years in prison, on charges of receiving foreign funding for his business.
CPJ emailed the Algerian Ministry of Interior for comment but did not receive any response.