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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Released Algerian journalist now faces charges of 'offending' head of state

Abdelkrim Zeghileche was released from prison on Wednesday [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 December, 2020

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An Algerian journalist recently released after a six-month sentence has been charged again.

An Algerian journalist was released from prison on Wednesday only to return directly to court for hearings in two other cases, an activist group said.

Abdelkrim Zeghileche, head of the web-based Radio Sarbacane, was arrested in June and was last month given a 12-month sentence, including six months behind bars, for "insulting the head of state" and "undermining national unity", according to the CNLD prisoners' rights group.

Having served the required six months, he was freed on Wednesday only to appear in court on prosecution-led appeals in two additional cases.

"Abdelkrim Zeghileche is free. He went straight for the court in Constantine for his two trials on appeal," Kaci Tansaout, coordinator of the rights group, told AFP.

In one case, Zeghileche is accused of insulting the president - a charge relating to the time of former autocrat Abdelaziz Bouteflika - and for opening Radio Sarbacane without authorisation.

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The prosecution is seeking confirmation of another six month prison sentence and a fine of 50,000 dinars ($380) in that case.

In the second case, a former official in Constantine has accused him of defamation. The prosecution Wednesday sought a year's prison and a fine for that case.

The verdicts are expected on December 30, Tansaout said.

Zeghileche is an independent journalist who had been engaged in initiatives promoting political change in Algeria.

Local media outlets have described his radio station as "a space for debate and a platform for the opposition".

The CNLD said the series of accusations against him amount to "judicial harassment".

The group says over 90 people, including activists, social media users and journalists, are currently in custody in connection with the country's anti-government protest movement or individual liberties - mostly for dissenting social media posts.

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