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Algeria: Rights Group Criticizes Arrest of Activists

Algeria: Rights Group Criticizes Arrest of Activists

Friday, 22 May, 2020 - 09:30
Anti-riot police clash with people protesting against president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in Algiers, Algeria March 8, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

An Algerian human rights group condemned prison sentences against three activists on charges of harming national unity, and criticizing President Abdelmajid Tebboun and the judiciary.

The National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD) announced on Wednesday that three opposition activists were sentenced to jail over Facebook posts.

It said that Soheib Debaghi was sentenced in Algiers to one year in prison on charges of encouraging an illegal gathering, insulting an official body and publishing potentially damaging material.

Larbi Tahar and Boussif Mohamed Boudiaf, were handed 18-month prison sentences by a court in the western town of El-Bayadh, also for posts on Facebook, according to the CNLD.

The activists accuse the Algerian authorities of trying to suppress the opposition by arresting those who criticize state officials.

For its part, the government denied violating human rights, especially after Tebboun pledged to expand freedoms in a new constitution that will be voted upon in a referendum later this year.

A number of activists have been prosecuted for their posts on social media since the start of the protest movement on February 22, 2019.

Arrest campaigns against opposition figures, journalists and the media have not stopped, even after the movement suspended all of its activities in mid-March after the COVID-19 lockdown that prevented political, cultural, sports and religious gatherings.

In remarks to AFP, Historian Karima Direche said “this is a blind repression and an attack on the media, activists and social media,” describing a “dying regime” swinging towards harsher authoritarianism.

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