Algerian journalists demanded that authorities release all of their colleagues held in pretrial detention and an end to judicial prosecution because of their political positions.
The journalists marched in the capital marking World Press Freedom Day, denouncing the government and security crackdowns.
Security forces cordoned off the square where the protesters demonstrated to prevent them from going out onto the main street.
The protesters demanded the release of Rabah Kareche, a reporter for the Liberete daily, who was placed in pretrial detention on April 19. The authorities accused him of “spreading hatred” and “discrimination.”
Khaled Drareni, an observer at Reporters Without Borders (RSF), joined the protesters. He was released from prison in February after spending eleven months on charges of “harming national unity.” He is still, however, awaiting a retrial at the Supreme Court.
Hassane Ouali, of Liberte, said in a statement there is no justification for Kareche’s imprisonment, asserting that he has been professionally practicing his job as a journalist for years.
Over the past two years, the government has blocked several news websites, including Maghreb Emergent and Tout Sur l’Algérie, due to articles critical of the president and security services.
Journalist Nejib Belhimer accused the authorities of trying to control the media by developing new legislation targeting journalists and bloggers, as evidenced by the crackdown against them.
Meanwhile, Minister of Information and government spokesman Ammar Belhimer told a local newspaper that he is keen to maintain the freedom of the national press.
He stressed that some media outlets are corrupt, urging thorough probes and noting that large funds from government advertisements, dating to the Bouteflika era, have been smuggled abroad.