Algeria arrests two journalists for video showing businesswomen protesting

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Algerian authorities arrested two journalists for publishing a video showing businesswomen protesting how they were treated at a government-sponsored event.

Journalists in Algeria have faced mounting repression since President Abdelmadjid Tebboune came to power four years ago, with possible long jail time on flimsy charges, experts say. Many news outlets have also shuttered due to mounting legal fees.

Sofiane Ghirous and Ferhat Omar of the news website “Algerie Scoop” were detained last week for broadcasting material authorities claimed “constituted incitement and hate speech,” according to a statement from the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees, a local watchdog group, on Saturday.

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In the video, women start-up founders accused the government of “humiliating” and treating them with “contempt” at an innovation event organized by the Ministry of Education and Professional Training.

Ghirous is the editor-in-chief of Algerie Scoop — accredited by the government in 2021— and Omar is the website’s director.

The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders has recently downranked Algeria on its freedom of expression index to 139th out of 180 in 2024 while decrying the country’s “pressure on independent media and threats to arrest journalists.”

In June, the popular news website Radio M announced it would cease publication due to “impossible conditions” while its editor, Ihsane El Kadi, serves a five-year prison sentence on charges alleging his media company accepted foreign funds for his coverage, which was often critical of the government.

Also over the weekend, authorities raided the Librairie Gouraya bookstore in the city of Bejaia, nearly 240 kilometers (149 miles) east of the capital, to prevent the sale of “Shared Kabylia” where a book signing was scheduled for its French author, Dominique Martre. They briefly arrested Martre, the Algerian publisher and several others, including journalists and activists.

In the book, Martre recounts her experiences teaching French in the mountainous region of Kabylia in the 1970s.

Those arrested were released later in the evening, attorney Mokrane Ait Labri — whose journalist brother was among the arrested — told The Associated Press.

The crackdown on freedom of expression comes as Algeria gears up for an election in September. Tebboune will likely seek a second term as president.

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