Algerian journalist, press freedom activist sees jail sentence reduced on appeal

Algerian journalist, press freedom activist sees jail sentence reduced on appeal
Khaled Drareni, an Algerian journalist, had his jail sentence reduced on appeal from two years to a six-month suspended sentence. RSF said the 'half-hearted verdict confirms the political nature' of his trial.
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The press watchdog says Drareni has been 'targeted by the Algerian regime for having exercised free, pluralist and independent journalism' [source: Getty]

Algerian journalist and press freedom activist Khaled Drareni had a two-year jail term reduced on appeal to a six-month suspended sentence on Thursday, a detainees' rights group said.

The 41-year-old - who became a symbol of the country's struggle for media freedom - used to work for French channel TV5 Monde and press freedom group Reporters without Borders (RSF).

He was sentenced in September 2020 for "inciting" demonstrations and "attacking national unity".

The National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees announced the reduction in his sentence.

Charges related to his coverage of demonstrations held by the Hirak movement in 2020, a year after the mass protests toppled longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

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In February 2021, President Abdelmajid Tebboune pardoned Drareni after 11 months behind bars, but the following month the high court ruled his case could be re-examined.

The prosecution requested a heavier sentence against him.

On Wednesday Drareni had tweeted: "Thank you everyone for your ongoing support. Whatever the verdict... I will continue my work fully independently."

RSF had called the two-year sentence "absurd and arbitrary".

Algerian rights group LADDH says several journalists remain behind bars in the country, which ranks 146th out of 180 countries on RSF's World Press Freedom index.