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Protests continue in support of journalist Khaled Drareni, as he awaits his verdict today

People continue to mobilize in support for Khaled Drareni and to defend press freedom in Algiers   -  
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AFP

Algeria

The verdict for Khaled Drareni is set for September 8 in Algiers. The Algerian journalist and his lawyers are counting on his release at the end of the appeal proceedings.

The correspondent for TV5MONDE and Reporters Without Borders in Algeria was sentenced to three years in prison for his reporting during demonstrations by Hirak, the popular opposition movement.

Mostapha Bouchachi, lawyer Khaled Drareni spoke to press:

"I saw Khaled Drareni two days ago, he is in a good spirit, he is confident and considers that he has done his job as a journalist and did not commit an offence that is punishable by the Algerian penal code. And I am as well confident as a lawyer, because if the Algerian court applies the law, they can only rule for his release."

"If justice does not treat the case as it did for his colleagues, who are free, the campaign will continue and it will be bigger and damage the image of Algeria, that has better things to do at the moment," said another co-journalist, Ihsane EL Kadi.

In the meantime, people continue to mobilize in support for Khaled Drareni and to defend press freedom. A rally is held every Monday in Algiers, in front of the Media House,participated by many activists and journalists.

"Repression of press freedom".

According to his relatives, the journalist had been under pressure for several months to end his coverage of the events of Hirak, the popular opposition movement to the Algerian government. He had been summoned three times by the internal security directorate on this matter.

On 10 August, Khaled Drareni was found guilty at first instance by the court of Sidi M'hamed in Algiers of "incitement to unarmed assembly" and "undermining national unity". He was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 50,000 dinars (about 330 euros).

Reporters Without Borders president Christophe Deloire condemned the Algerian authorities' "headlong rush" to crack down on press freedom. The NGO points out that, since Khaled Drareni's conviction, other court decisions have confirmed the Algerian authorities' toughening stance against journalists and independent media.

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