He has become a symbol of the fight for press freedom.

Incarcerated since March 29, Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni will know on Tuesday September 15 whether or not he is released from prison.

The verdict of his appeal trial is expected later this morning at the Court of Algiers.

Khaled Drareni was sentenced on August 10 to three years' imprisonment for "inciting unarmed assembly" and "undermining national unity".

The sentence, of unprecedented severity, surprised and indignant his colleagues.

During the appeal trial a week ago, the prosecutor requested - as in the first instance - four years in prison against the founder of the online news site Casbah Tribune, who is also the correspondent in Algeria for the channel. French television station TV5 Monde and for the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF).


The 40-year-old journalist was arrested after covering a student demonstration in Algiers on March 7.

He is also accused of having criticized on Facebook "the corruption and money" of the political system and of having published a statement by a coalition of political parties in favor of a general strike, according to RSF.

The Minister of Communication Ammar Belhimer, spokesman for the government, also accuses him of having worked without ever having had a professional press card. 

Khaled Drareni was tried together with Samir Benlarbi and Slimane Hamitouche, two figures of "Hirak", the popular uprising that rocked Algeria for more than a year until its suspension in mid-March because of the health crisis.

On the same charges, the latter two were granted provisional release on July 2, while Khaled Drareni was kept in prison.

The prosecutor also requested four years in prison against them.

"I only did my job"

During the appeal trial, during which he appeared emaciated, the journalist categorically rejected the charges against him.

"I am a journalist and not a criminal. I only did my job," he pleaded.

In a statement, RSF on Monday denounced "the pressures and attempts at corruption" of which this experienced journalist was the target. "Khaled Drareni is supported by an all-out campaign of solidarity, from Algiers to New York via Paris and Geneva: Committees supporting the journalist in Algeria and abroad have called for his "immediate and" unconditional "release because of his" particularly worrying "state of health, according to RSF.

Algeria is in 146th place (out of 180) in the 2020 world press freedom ranking established by RSF.

It has lost five places compared to 2019 (141st) and 27 compared to 2015 (119th).

With AFP

The summary of the week

France 24 invites you to come back to the news that marked the week

I subscribe

Take international news everywhere with you!

Download the France 24 application