An Algerian appeals court sentenced journalist Rabah Kareche to six months in prison plus six months suspended on Monday for spreading “false news”.
Kareche of the daily newspaper Liberte was arrested in April after reporting that the Tuareg, a Berber minority who have long complained of economic and social marginalisation, had protested over “expropriation” of their historical lands.
His lawyer Zoubida Assoul, said they were stunned by this verdict. “He didn’t do anything wrong. He simply reported facts,” he added.
Assoul said Kareche would be released on Saturday having already served most of the time in prison.
On August 12, he was sentenced to eight months behind bars plus four months suspended, for “spreading false information liable to damage public order”.
He was also accused of posting reports that could trigger “segregation and hatred within society”.
“This is more of a political ruling than a judicial one,” Assoul said. “The rolling back of press freedom in this country shocks and saddens me.”
Kareche’s detention triggered protests from fellow journalists and the international community, especially after President Abdelmadjid Tebboune described Kareche as an “arsonist” in an interview before his sentencing.
Kareche is one of several Algerian journalists currently behind bars in Algeria which is ranked a lowly 146th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index.