Algeria frees journalist month into one year jail term

Algeria frees journalist month into one year jail term
2 min read
24 January, 2019
Adlene Mellah, who heads the news websites Algerie Direct and Dzair Presse, was arrested on December 9 for attending a rally in support of an imprisoned singer.
Adlene Mellah was arrested on December 9 for attending a rally [Getty]
An Algerian court has released a journalist a month after he was sentenced to one year in jail for taking part in an unauthorised protest, his lawyer said.

Adlene Mellah, who heads the news websites Algerie Direct and Dzair Presse, was arrested on December 9 for attending a rally in support of an imprisoned singer.

He was found guilty of unlawful assembly and sentenced to one year in jail on December 25.

On Wednesday a court in Algiers gave him a suspended six-month sentence and released him on appeal, said the lawyer, Noureddine Benissad.

Mellah was first arrested on October 22 in a separate case of alleged blackmail, before being released a month later.

He still faces charges of blackmail, defamation and invasion of privacy in that case which is due go before a court on February 7.

Rights group have called on authorities to drop all charges against him.

"It is outrageous that a journalist has been imprisoned simply for carrying out his work and exercising his rights to freedom of expression," said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa director said on Tuesday.

"The authorities must [...] drop all the charges against him in this case immediately."

Crackdown against freedom of expression in Algeria intensified in October, when at least seven journalists and six activists were arrested and detained.

"Mellah’s case sends an alarming message about the state of media freedom in Algeria today," Morayef said.

"Journalists must be allowed to carry out their work free from harassment or intimidation, without fear of being arrested by the authorities."

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranked Algeria 136th out of 180 countries on its press freedom index for 2018.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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