Algerian Journalist Ihsane El Kadi Sentenced to Jail for “Foreign Financing” of Business, Sparking Outrage from Human Rights Groups

Algerian Journalist Ihsane El Kadi Sentenced to Jail for "Foreign Financing" of Business, Sparking Outrage from Human Rights Groups

On Sunday, an Algerian journalist Ihsane El Kadi was sentenced to five years in prison, with two of those years suspended, for the “foreign financing” of his business. The case has been widely denounced by human rights groups, as El Kadi is a vocal critic of the government and one of the last independent journalists in the country.

The Algerian Journalist, El Kadi was arrested in December and charged with receiving foreign funding, which is prohibited under Algeria’s penal code if the funds are aimed at “inciting acts susceptible to threaten state security.” In addition to the jail term, his news website, Maghreb Emergent, and his radio station, Radio M, were also shut down. The court ordered the media company behind El Kadi’s website and radio station to be dissolved.

El Kadi’s lawyer, Abdelghani Badi, has stated that they plan to appeal the sentence. El Kadi is one of several journalists and human rights activists to have been jailed recently in Algeria, leading international rights groups to criticize what they see as a constant attack on freedoms in the country. They have accused Algerian authorities of cracking down on the pro-democracy Hirak protest movement.

El Kadi was active in the Hirak movement, which helped force long-time president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign in 2019. In February, Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, called on Algerian authorities to end their crackdown on civil society and human rights defenders.

Algeria ranks 134th out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) 2022 World Press Freedom Index. RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire wrote on Twitter that Sunday’s sentence was “absurd” and only served to highlight fabricated charges.

The case against El Kadi and the recent crackdown on journalists and human rights activists in Algeria are deeply concerning. It is vital that Algerian authorities respect the right to freedom of expression and allow independent journalism to thrive in the country. As the international community continues to monitor the situation, the hope is that pressure can be applied to ensure that El Kadi’s sentence is overturned and that the harassment and intimidation of journalists and human rights activists in Algeria comes to an end.

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