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Algeria: jailed journalist Ihsane El Kadi should be released

Ihsane El Kadi has been in detention since 24 December © Private

El Kadi was arrested on 24 December days after publishing article on role of army in presidential elections

His pre-trial detention was extended on 15 January without his lawyers being present

‘It is shocking and shameful to see the Algerian authorities penalising press freedom’ - Amna Guellali

The Algerian authorities have arbitrarily renewed the pretrial detention of prominent journalist Ihsane El Kadi without the presence of his defence team, Amnesty International said today, as it called for him to be released. 

El Kadi, who is accused of trumped-up state security-related offences, must be released immediately and his two media outlets - closed down on 24 December - should be allowed to reopen.

On 15 January, a judge in the Court of Sidi M'hamed in Algiers renewed a decision to hold the journalist in pre-trial detention. No lawyers from El Kadi’s defence team were present to challenge the lawfulness of his imprisonment as the court failed to inform them that the appeal hearing - initially scheduled for 18 January - had been moved to an earlier date.

On 24 December, plain-clothed security officials arrested El Kadi at his home in Zemmouri, a coastal town 25 miles east of Algiers, and later that day they led him in handcuffs to the offices of his online media outlets Radio M and Maghreb Emergent. They ordered staff to leave, seized computers and other materials, and sealed the doors. A few days before his arrest, El Kadi had published an analysis of the Algerian political situation, outlining the role of the Algerian army in presidential elections.

A member of El Kadi’s family, who has asked to remain anonymous, told Amnesty that security officers did not produce a warrant before his arrest or inform him of any allegations against him. Security officers then held El Kadi for five days, and he was interrogated about his publications in the Antar barracks in Algiers, which are under the supervision of the General Directorate of Interior Security.

On 29 December, an investigative judge ordered the journalist’s detention at El Harrach prison. A prosecutor charged him with several offences including “receiving funds, a donation or a benefit that could harm the security of the State”, “receiving foreign funds for political propaganda”, and “distributing, selling, exposing for propaganda, leaflets, newsletters and flyers with the aim of harming the national interest”. 

Meanwhile, El Kadi was convicted on 25 December to a yet-to-be-applied sentence of six months in jail and a fine for “publishing false information” related to a 23 March 2021 article defending the role in the “Hirak” protests of the unregistered political group Rachad, which the authorities classified as a terrorist entity. On several previous occasions, law-enforcement officials have summoned El Kadi to the Antar barracks to interrogate him about his work.


The prosecution of El Kadi comes after numerous recent cases of harassment, intimidation and unlawful imprisonment of journalists in Algeria. Over the past year the authorities have arrested, summoned or convicted at least 11 other journalists.

Amna Guellali, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, said: 

“El Kadi’s unjustified detention by the Algerian authorities is a grave injustice compounded by the violation of his fair trial rights.

“The fact that El Kadi's pre-trial detention has been renewed without the presence of his defence team, and that the court did not inform them of the change in hearing date, is a blatant disregard for his right to a fair trial.

“It is shocking and shameful to see the Algerian authorities penalising press freedom and the right to freedom of expression under the pretext of national security.

“The authorities must release him immediately and allow the reopening of his outlets without censorship of critical content.”

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