Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni received a three-year prison term Monday, a lawyer said, in a trial rights groups have called a test of press freedom in a country recently rocked by anti-government protests.
"It's a very heavy verdict for Khaled Drareni. We are surprised," lawyer and president of the Algerian League for Human Rights Nouredine Benissad told AFP.
Drareni, 40, editor of the Casbah Tribune news site and correspondent for French-language channel TV5 Monde, was arrested on March 29 on charges of "inciting an unarmed gathering" and "endangering national unity" after covering demonstrations by the "Hirak" protest movement.
Weekly protests rocked Algeria for more than a year and only came to a halt in March due to the novel coronavirus crisis.
Drareni has denied the charges against him when he appeared via video-conference due to coronavirus measures.
"I just did my job as an independent journalist," he said, according to a statement by press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), for which Drareni also works.
He added he had exercised his "right to inform as a journalist and citizen".