- International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today condemned conviction of Noureddine Boukraa, saying it is clear intimidation to journalists.
On Sunday, Mr Boukraa was given a three-month suspended sentence and fined 30,000 Algerian dinars (290 euros) after his conviction on charges stemming from a complaint by public security chief in Annaba, Draia Messaoud, over a November 12, 2007, article in which the journalist accused members of local police force of influence-peddling.
"This case was a sham based on the authorities' desire to intimidate Noureddine and other Algerian journalists whose investigative reporting is critical of the government," said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. "There have been repeated attempts to prosecute journalists to create a hostile atmosphere for independent journalism."
Reports state that Algerian authorities had originally requested a one-year jail sentence for Boukraa, whom they charged with "disclosing secrets from an investigation through the use of confidential documents", "attacking the honour of a state body" and "defamation."
IFJ said it is not the first time that Mr Boukraa has faced charges in connection with his work, saying last year he was detained based on a complaint from an industrialist, Ahmed Zaim, whom he had accused of bribing judges in a 2005 article in the daily newspaper Echourouk.
IFJ and its Algerian affiliate, Syndicat National des Journalistes (SNJ), have been urging authorities to decriminalise press offences, ensure fair trials for the media and withdraw prison sentences against journalists.
"These attacks on journalists are the result of Algeria's repressive press laws," said Nadir Benseba, co-ordinator of IFJ Algeria Solidarity Centre. "We are calling on government leaders to end this pressure on media and allow them to work freely."
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