Algeria arrests famous journalists and activists before elections | International News Middle East News

Amnesty International stated that the arrests of Khaled Drareni, Ihsane El Kadi and Karim Tabbou are evidence of a “chilling escalation” in the suppression of dissidents.

Just days before the Algerian parliamentary elections, the Algerian authorities arrested two well-known journalists and a well-known opposition figure.

Since former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced to step down due to mass protests in 2019, Algeria will hold its first legislative election on Saturday. Demonstrations against long-term leaders’ reelection quickly turned into demands for systemic change.

On Friday, Amnesty International stated that the arrests of journalists Khaled Drareni and Ihsane El Kadi and popular activist Karim Tabbou proved that the crackdown on dissidents was “a chilling escalation”.

The National Commission for the Liberation of Detainees said that Tabu, a group of lawyers defending imprisoned pro-democratic Chirac activists, was arrested at their home in the southwestern suburbs of the capital Algiers on Thursday night.

The famous Chirac member Tabu was previously imprisoned from September 2019 to July 2020 and spent more than a month under judicial supervision, prohibiting him from engaging in any political activities.

On Saturday, Algeria will hold its first legislative elections since former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced to step down in 2019 after 20 years in power [File: Ryad Kramdi/AFP]

An Algerian court sentenced Tabbou to a one-year probation in November for “inciting violence” and “damaging the image of the army”. A ruling on his appeal is expected on June 19.

The group of lawyers said that since Thursday night, El Kadi has been detained at the Anta police station for questioning. He is the head of Maghreb Emergent and Radio M, an online news site that speaks for members of the opposition. He is also an active member of the democratic movement.

Algeria’s Minister of Communications, Ammar Belhimer, accused El Kadi of “disclosing information that may be detrimental to national unity”.

El Kadi was placed under judicial supervision on May 18 and was ordered to appear at the police station once a week. His passport was confiscated.

The independent journalist Dela Reni was detained in a military camp on the outskirts of Algiers. His lawyer Zoubida Assoul said his only contact with his family was at 1:30 in the morning.

The reporter was arrested in March last year when reporting on a large-scale demonstration in the capital and was released on bail in February. He is expected to face a new trial.

Amnesty International condemned the arrest of the three, saying they were likely to “retaliate” for their connection with the Chirac protest movement.

“Instead of rounding up journalists and political opponents to suppress dissidents and intimidate members of the Chirac protest movement, the Algerian authorities should focus on respecting their human rights obligations,” Amna Guellali Africa, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement. .

Chirac’s supporters have pledged to boycott the election, and President Abdelmadjid Tebboune called it part of his commitment to fight corruption and build a “New Algeria” because they condemned the suppression of the opposition and the increase. The degree of pressure on protests.

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