Algerian Court Sentences Prominent Journalist To 5 Years

Activists demonstrate outside the Algerian embassy to France to demand the release of release of Algerian journalist Ihsane El Kadi, Thursday, March 30, 2023 in Paris. Ihsane El Kadi has for years been the target of Algerian authorities and was taken to custody on Dec. 24 2022. The verdict in his trial for "illegal fund raising" and "endangering state security", is expected Sunday April 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

ALGIERS, ALGERIA (AP) — A court in Algiers on Sunday sentenced a prominent journalist in the North African country to five years in prison with two years suspended and ordered his website and a radio station shut down based on the accusation that they threaten state security.

Ihsane El-Kadi was detained Dec. 23 at his home in the capital, Algiers. He was accused of receiving foreign funding for his outlets. He has remained in custody since his arrest and appeared in court on Sunday for the verdict, along with a collective of lawyers, defending him, journalists and family members.

The court also ordered El-Kadi to pay a fine of 700,000 Algerian dinars ($5,200). The media company which owns El-Kadi’s website and radio station was ordered dissolved, its assets seized, and a fine of one million Algerian dinars ($7,390) was slapped on its owners.

El-Kadi, who was active in Algeria’s Hirak pro-democracy protest movement in 2019, appears to be the latest target of an encroaching crackdown on dissenting voices in the North African country.

His outlets were seen by many as outposts of free debate in Algerian media that provided journalists and opposition politicians a platform to point out contradictions or shortfalls in the government’s policies.

The case against him is linked to the crowdfunding used to finance his media outlets, Maghreb Emergent and Webradio. The website and radio station operated in Algeria for years but did not have government recognition as official media organizations.

El-Kadi was accused of violating an article in the criminal code targeting anyone who receives funds aimed at “inciting acts susceptible to threaten state security,” stability or Algeria’s fundamental interests, his lawyers said before the verdict.