Paris defends media freedom after news channel threatened by Algerian government

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The French government defended media freedom and the “right to inform” on Monday as it stood by the France 24 news channel, following fierce criticism from the Algerian government.

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Algerian authorities on Saturday threatened to permanently withdraw the media accreditation for the broadcaster because of alleged “blatant bias” in its coverage of the country’s pro-democracy protest movement.

“France defends press freedom everywhere in the world, as well as the safety of journalists and all of those who contribute to public debate,” a spokesperson for the French foreign affairs ministry told reporters.

“The right to inform is a fundamental right which needs to be protected everywhere.”

Although former Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down in 2019 in the face of anti-regime protests, demonstrations have continued demanding an overhaul of the ruling system in place since independence from France in 1962.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Algeria 146 out of 180 countries and territories in its 2020 World Press Freedom Index, a 27-place drop from 2015.

Journalists working for foreign media in Algeria are subject to bureaucratic and arbitrary press accreditation procedures which grant them permission to work in the country.

Agence France-Presse’s Algeria bureau chief, Philippe Agret, was appointed in October 2019, but authorities have failed without explanation to provide him with any accreditation.

His predecessor as bureau chief, Aymeric Vincenot, was forced to leave the country in 2019 after the authorities refused to renew his accreditation.

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