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Algeria journalist acquitted after year in detention

61 people are imprisoned in Algeria in relation to "Hirak", an anti-regime protest movement [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 September, 2020

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An Algerian journalist that was sentenced to three years in prison was acquitted and is expected to be released after spending over a year in jail.

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.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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