France on Wednesday “regretted” the expulsion of the director of Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Algiers, Aymeric Vincenot, by the Algerian authorities, who refused to renew his accreditation for 2019.
“We regret this decision and reiterate our commitment to press freedom and the protection of journalists around the world,” French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnès von der Mühll said at an electronic press briefing without further comment.
Aymeric Vincenot, who has been stationed in Algiers since June 2017, had to leave Algeria on Tuesday evening at the end of the final period granted to him by the police when his residence permit expired.
The head of the AFP office, whose residence permit in Algeria expired on 28 February, had no accreditation since the end of last year.
For Reporters Without Borders president Christophe Deloire, “the expulsion of the director of the AFP office in Algiers is more than an extremely negative sign, it is an indication of a desire to hide: why violate press freedom in such a political period,” he tweeted.
This expulsion comes at a time when Algeria is the scene of an unprecedented popular protest movement that forced President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to renounce his candidacy for a fifth term and then resign on April 2.
Launched on 22 February, this massive peaceful movement, particularly led by the youth, is currently continuing, with the main demand being the dismantling of the entire system in power since Algeria’s independence in 1962, beyond the departure of Mr. Bouteflika and his clan alone.
AFP CEO Fabrice Fries said on Tuesday that the eviction was “unacceptable” and announced that it was “out of the question, under these conditions, to appoint a new director in Algiers immediately”.