A court in Algeria on Sunday sentenced Ihsane El-Kadi, a prominent journalist in the country, to five years in prison, accusing him of receiving foreign funds with an aim to threaten state security.
In addition, the court ruled that Interface Media, which operates Maghreb Emergent and Webradio, be dissolved and pay a fine of 10 million Algerian dinars ($40,000).
On Sunday, the sixty-year-old journalist listened to the ruling of the judge in the Sidi M’Hamed court without any reaction.
During a court session on March 26, El-Kadi had asked the judge not to attend the pronouncing of the conviction, saying he knows the ruling in advance.
The journalist also refused to answer the court’s questions saying that the conditions for a free trial have not been met and that the investigative judge’s decision to place him in pre-trial detention is “illegal.”
Journalists from Interface attended the court hearing on Sunday and they had assumed the verdict to be harsh.
El-Kadi’s lawyers said they are going to appeal the judgment within the required timeframe.
Ihsan had strongly protested against being described as “khabardji” (an informant) by the country’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune during a television interview last February. His lawyers considered Tebboune’s comments as directed to the judges, saying that the journalist’s indictment did not include the charge of “espionage.”
Article 95 stipulates a sentence of five to seven years in prison for anyone who “receives funds, a gift or an advantage, by any means, from a state, an institution or any other public or private body or from any legal or naturalized person, inside or outside the country, to carry out or incite to carry out acts likely to undermine state security.”
El-Kadi’s defense team had dismissed the foreign funding charges.
They said the only foreign transfer to El-Kadi’s company had been from his daughter who lives in the United Kingdom and who had transferred 30,000 British pounds to the company to pay the salaries of employees.