Algerian prosecutors on Thursday called for harsher penalties against journalist and press freedom activist Khaled Drareni, his lawyer said, after an appeal against his two-year prison sentence.
The 41-year-old, who used to work for French news channel TV5 Monde and press freedom group Reporters without Borders (RSF), was sentenced in September 2020 for “inciting” demonstrations and “attacking national unity”.
The charges related to his coverage of demonstrations held by the Hirak opposition movement in 2020, a year after the mass protests toppled longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
In February 2021, he was pardoned by President Abdelmajid Tebboune after 11 months behind bars, but the following month the high court ruled his case could be re-examined.
Drareni’s lawyer Mustapha Bouchachi said the journalist had been “prosecuted, sentenced, and continues to be hassled by the justice system for doing his job”, adding that it was “a shame we got to this point.”
The verdict of the appeal will be issued on March 3.
Authorities also accuse Drareni of working for foreign media without accreditation, as well as being an informant for “foreign parties”.
He has rejected the accusations, saying he was only “doing his job as an independent journalist”.
Algeria ranks 146th out of 180 countries on RSF’s press freedom index, having fallen 27 places in five years.