Algerian journalist facing five years in prison

campaign image by Reporters without Borders.

On December 24th, 2022, Ihsane El Kadi, editor-in-chief of Radio M and Maghreb Émergent in Algeria, was arrested. He now faces five years in prison. The sentence is due on 2 April 2023.

It was after Ihsane El Kadi reported that the incumbent president Abdelmadjid Tebboune was planning to change the constitution in order to be re-elected for a new term and questioned in a tweet the claim that the regime had managed to ”recover” 20 billion dollars allegedly lost in a corruption affair that he was arrested by the country’s security services, as reported here.

The trial of Ihsane El Kadi started on the 26th of March. The prosecution requested a five-year suspended prison sentence, Algerian media reported.

El Kadi is the founder of Radio M and Maghreb Émergent, the last free and independent media in Algeria. A few days before his arrest, he published an analysis of the political situation in Algeria, describing the role of the Algerian army in the presidential elections, which you can read here.

Allegations of Espionage

The prosecutor at the SidiM’hamed court in Algiers had asked for a five-year prison sentence, a five-year ban on practising journalism and a fine of around €50 000. The publisher’s equipment and premises will also be confiscated.

Since his arrest in December 2022, Ihsane El Kadi has been held in pre-trial detention in El Harrach prison. According to Amnesty International, he has been charged with several offences, including receiving funds ”likely to harm state security” and ”receiving foreign funds for propaganda”.

According to Ihsane El Kadi’s lawyers, the foreign funds he was accused of taking were a £25,000 money transfer from his daughter, a UK resident and shareholder in the publishing house that owns the media companies.

As founder and editor-in-chief of Radio M and Maghreb Émergent, Ihsane El Kadi is one of Algeria’s most influential journalists. The radio station and newspaper mainly target young, urban audiences. The newspaper and radio have become known for criticising the Algerian government and giving voice to young, progressive voices in the country, but have also allowed government representatives to appear on air.

Minutes after the start of the trial, Ihsane El Kadi condemned the arbitrary arrest and the false accusations of being a spy, a point made by Algerian President Tebboune at a recent press conference.

”The day when Tebboune will make me a spy will not happen!”, said Ihsane El Kadi, causing the court to burst into applause, according to local media reports.

Several international organisations, including Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Amnesty International have called for the immediate release of Ihsane El Kadi.

David Isaksson

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