Algeria journalist acquitted after year in detention

An Algerian protests at a rally in Algiers. (AFP)
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Updated 23 September 2020

Algeria journalist acquitted after year in detention

ALGIERS: Algerian journalist Belkacem Djir, sentenced to three years’ jail in a common law case, was acquitted Wednesday and is expected to be released after over a year behind bars, his lawyer said.
“The Algiers court has announced that journalist Belkacem Djir has been acquitted,” Fatiha Rouibi wrote on Facebook.
Djir had been accused of using a “false identity” and “blackmail.”
No other information was available on the case against him, with lawyers refusing to discuss it publicly while acknowledging privately that his case was “sensitive.”
Djir, a 34-year-old journalist for private television channel Echourouk News, was detained in July 2019.
He is one of several Algerian journalists currently in prison.
They include Khaled Drareni, Casbah Tribune news website editor and correspondent for French-language TV5 Monde, and Abdelkrim Zeghileche, head of a web-based radio station.
They are being prosecuted in cases linked to “Hirak,” the anti-regime protest movement that began in February 2019.
Drareni was on September 15 handed a two-year jail sentence for his coverage of the movement that toppled Algeria’s longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika last year.
Zeghileche was sentenced in late August to two years in prison for “undermining national unity” and “insulting the head of state.”
A total of 61 people are currently behind bars for acts related to “Hirak,” according to CNLD, a rights group that lists prisoners of conscience in Algeria.


Missing Pakistani TV reporter is found after 72 hours

Updated 24 October 2020

Missing Pakistani TV reporter is found after 72 hours

  • Geo's bureau chief in Karachi said Ali Imran Syed had contacted his wife to say that he had reached his mother’s home
  • Earlier police registered the journalist’s disappearance as an “abduction” case without naming suspects

ISLAMABAD: A reporter working for Pakistan’s leading Geo News television who had gone missing in the southern port city of Karachi has been found, family and colleague said Saturday.
Geo bureau chief in Karachi, Fahim Siddiqi, said Ali Imran Syed had contacted his wife by phone to say that he had reached his mother’s home.
Earlier police registered the journalist’s disappearance as an “abduction” case without naming suspects.
The reporter left home late Friday evening telling his wife that he would be back in half an hour before disappearing for 72 hours.
Recently there have been several cases of Pakistani journalists being detained or abducted for several hours, before being released.
Azhar Abbas, head of the Geo TV, earlier said he has contacted provincial and federal authorities “to help trace the missing reporter” and “ensure his safety.”
Siddiqi said the reporter’s abduction may have been related to his work on recent political events, including the arrest of an opposition leader who is the son-in-law of former premier Nawaz Sharif.
Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said in a tweet no one should “disappear in a democracy”.
Pakistani media has been facing renewed pressure from state agencies that have sought to control the topics covered by the media and even restrict the selection of guests for TV talk shows.
Journalists and press freedom advocates often accuse the Pakistani military and security agencies of pressuring media outlets to prevent critical coverage.
In December last year, a Karachi based reporter with the Express Tribune newspaper, Bilal Farooqi, was arrested on charges of spreading hateful content against the country’s military on social media.
In July, Matiullah Jan was briefly detained. Jan is known for criticism of Pakistan’s military and security agencies.

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