Penalty increased to 5 years for Ihsane El Kadi

Penalty increased to 5 years for Ihsane El Kadi

The Algiers Court of Appeal on Sunday demanded a sentence against the press boss Ihsane El Kadi, imprisoned since December, by imposing a sentence of seven years in prison, including five years, two years more than in first case.

“A shocking and incomprehensible verdict”, wrote on Twitter the representative of the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Khaled Drareni, announcing the judicial decision on appeal.

Mr. El Kadi’s arrest sparked a wave of solidarity among his colleagues and human rights activists in Algeria and Europe.

A petition received by RSF to obtain his release has collected more than 10,000 signatures.

At first instance, El Kadi, prosecuted for “foreign financing of his business”, was sentenced on April 2 to five years in prison, including three years in prison.

During the appeal trial held on June 4, the public prosecutor requested confirmation of this conviction.

El Kadi, 63, leader of one of the last private and independent press groups in Algeria – Media Interface which includes Radio M and the news site Maghreb Emergent – ​​has been imprisoned since 29 December.

“We are amazed at such a decision, which is more political than judicial,” reacted to AFP, Me Zoubida Assoul, who is one of the defense lawyers.

“Ihsane El Kadi received the maximum sentence provided by law. It is not a reprisal of justice and should benefit from mitigating circumstances, “added Ms. Assoul, specifying that the press boss will “certainly” appeal to the Cassation.

Ihsane El Kadi is accused “of having received sums of money and privileges from persons and organizations in the country and abroad in order to engage in activities likely to undermine the security of the State and its stability”, had indicated the Court of Algiers during the statement of the verdict of first instance.

According to the order for reference, the funds in question amount to “25,000 pounds sterling (about 28,000 euros, editor’s note) that the journalist received, in installments, from his daughter Tin Hinane, established in London and shareholder of Media Interface,” said Me Assoul, consistent that this money was to be used to settle the group’s debt arrears.

“There is no document in the court file attesting that Ihsane El-Kadi or Interface media received funds from foreign organizations or from a foreign person,” she added.

” A new page “

Justice also ordered the dissolution of his company Interface Médias and the confiscation of all his seized assets as well as fines against him and targeting his companies.

In a resolution adopted on May 11, the European Parliament called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of the press boss and called on the Algerian authorities to respect media freedom.

The Algerian Parliament had reacted to this position, qualifying it as “blatant interference in the affairs of a sovereign country”. He had expressed his “categorical rejection” of the text “full of terrible untruths” voted by MEPs.

During a ceremony at the presidency on May 3 on the occasion of International Press Freedom Day, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune had discussions with journalists including Khaled Drareni, who was invited to the meeting.

Drareni explained that he took part in the ceremony, as RSF’s representative for North Africa and “to deliver (to President Tebboune) a letter from the organization (RSF) containing a series of demands, in particular the release of Ihsane El Kadi and the dropping of charges against him and against Interface media”.

Tebboune then assured media professionals of his desire to open “a new page” with the national press, notably through the entry into force of new laws.

Algeria is in 136th place out of 180 countries in the world press freedom ranking established by RSF in 2023.


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