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Wife of jailed Hirak activist urges Algerian authorities to release him following deteriorating health Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Wife of jailed Hirak activist urges Algerian authorities to release him following deteriorating health

Rachid Nekkaz has health problems in prison [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 February, 2021

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The political activist who was arrested in Algeria is suffering in prison and in need urgent healthcare, his wife says.
An Algerian activist who has been languishing in prison for his role in protests during the Hirak movement in 2019 is suffering from ill health brought on by prostate cancer, his wife revealed, urging authorities to release him.

Rachid Nekkaz's health is deteriorating, his wife Cecile Leroux said in a Facebook video post.

"My husband's state of health is deteriorating," she said in the video.

"He did not want me to intervene…However, there is a critical situation. My husband's state of health is deteriorating. I just learned, like all of you, that he has the onset of prostate cancer, moreover, he has always had respiratory problems," she explained.

Nekkaz added that her husband was "transferred to a prison in the desert", where "the nearest hospital is located 120-150 km" from his place of detention.

"I was told about article 128, I ask the government and the courts to apply it, and release Rachid Nekkaz for health reasons. It is a call from the heart for health, a health appeal and a humanitarian appeal."

Rachid Nekkaz has been held in custody since 4 December 2019 in Kolea prison near Algeries.

The political activist was recently transferred to a prison in the desert in Lebyodh Sidi Chikh.

Moving him in such a manner – transferring him from his family's place of residence and from Algiers – constitutes a serious violation of his rights, NGO Riposte International said.

Last year Algerian president Abdelmajdid Tebboune cracked down on pro-democracy protests under the pretext of coronavirus social distancing measures.

Weekly protests were put to an end and as months passed, leaders and members of the Hirak movement were arrested, often arbitrarily.

"I lived through hell," said 25-year-old Walid Nekkiche during an interview with the French-language daily Liberté.

"I went through a lot during those fourteen months in prison, and especially the six days I spent in the Ben Aknoun barracks."

He was recently released after more than a year in prison in the Antar Center in Algiers.

"There was a lot of pressure on me. After this long and excruciating passage in this eerie place, I was introduced to the examining magistrate of the court of Bab El-Oued (north of Algiers) before I was imprisoned in El Harrach prison," he added.

During the trial on Monday, the student said he was "sexually, physically and verbally assaulted by security services during his interrogation."

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