Algeria recalls France envoy after protest films, rejects journalist’s bail plea

Algerian protesters carry journalist Khaled Drareni on their shoulders in the Algerian capital Algiers, March 6, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 27 May 2020

Algeria recalls France envoy after protest films, rejects journalist’s bail plea

  • Move comes after French public television aired documentaries on the North African country’s anti-government protest movement.
  • Khaled Drareni was arrested on March 7 while covering an anti-government protest and was accused of “inciting an unarmed gathering and damaging national integrity”

ALGIERS: Algeria said Wednesday it would “immediately” recall its ambassador from France for consultations, after French public television aired documentaries on the North African country’s anti-government protest movement.
The interior ministry said two films broadcast by French public television channels on Tuesday, “seemingly spontaneous and under the pretext of freedom of expression, are in fact attacks on the Algerian people and its institutions” including the army.
Meanwhile, a court in Algeria on Wednesday rejected a bail plea by a prominent journalist detained since late March, a prisoner support group said.
Khaled Drareni is the founder of the Casbah Tribune website and a correspondent for French-language channel TV5 Monde and press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
He was arrested on March 7 while covering an anti-government protest and was accused of “inciting an unarmed gathering and damaging national integrity.”
He was later released then re-arrested.
Prisoners’ support group CNLD said Wednesday an Algiers court had “upheld the rejection of a request for the provisional release” of Drareni.
Weekly anti-government protests known as “Hirak” rocked the North African country for over a year and only came to a halt due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Last month, authorities blocked three news websites that had covered the protests.
Amnesty has called Drareni’s prosecution “outrageous” and accused the government of “arbitrary prosecutions aimed at silencing... activists and journalists” linked to the Hirak protest movement.
It said last month that authorities were endangering detainees’ health “given the risks of a COVID-19 outbreak in prisons and places of detention.”
Algeria ranks 146 out of 180 countries on RSF’s world press freedom index for 2020.


Yemen prisoner exchange talks open in Switzerland

United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths. (AP)
Updated 19 September 2020

Yemen prisoner exchange talks open in Switzerland

  • The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

GENEVA: Rival parties in Yemen’s war opened UN-sponsored talks on Friday aimed at an exchange deal for the release of more than 1,400 prisoners, the UN said.
The internationally recognized government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels agreed to exchange some 15,000 detainees as part of peace deal brokered by the UN in Sweden in 2018.
The two sides have since made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 900 loyalists in exchange for 520 insurgents — if it materializes — would mark the first large-scale handover since the war erupted in 2014.
“The #Yemen Prisoners & Detainees Committee meeting started today. I am grateful to #Switzerland for hosting it & to @ICRC for co-chairing,” UN envoy Martin Griffiths tweeted, without giving an exact location for the talks.

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The two sides have since made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 900 loyalists in exchange for 520 insurgents — if it materializes — would mark the first large-scale handover since the war erupted in 2014.

“My message to the Parties is: conclude discussions, release detainees swiftly, bring relief to thousands of Yemeni families,” he wrote.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), for its part, said it was ready to help with the return of detainees to their families.
A source close to Yemen’s presidency said on Wednesday that the talks in Switzerland would “lay out the final touches” after agreement was reached with the ICRC “on all logistical arrangements.”
Gen. Nasser Mansour Hadi, brother of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, along with several politicians and journalists, would be among those released, he said.
A former senior intelligence official, the general has been held by the rebels ever since they overran Sanaa in late 2014.
The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.