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Petition for Press Freedom in Algeria

Translated by Pedro Oliveira

Translated Tuesday 7 March 2006, by Pedro

Five Algerian journalists of "Le Matin" have been sentenced to imprisonment for having done their job: To inform!

Two months of imprisonment for Abla Chérif and Hassane Zerrouky, also a journalist with L’Humanité; three months for Youcef Rezzoug, senior editor of the “Matin”, and journalist Yasmine Ferroukhi; five months for Mohamed Benchicou, the managing director of the “Matin”, already incarcerated for the past ten months.

We demand the release of Hassane Zerrouky, Abla Chérif, Youssef Ferroukhi and Yasmine Ferroukhi, as well as the immediate liberation of Mohamed Benchicou.

We have decided to break the silence on the situation of Algerian journalists. The freedom of expression and the freedom of the press are victims of a ferocious repression in Algeria. Not a week goes by that journalists aren’t called before the courts.

The director of the “Matin”, Mohamed Benchicou, has been in prison for the last ten months in deplorable sanitary conditions and his health condition is deteriorating everyday. The “Matin” which had an print-run of over 150,000 copies each day in Algeria, hasn’t been published since June 2004. Four journalists who, in the columns of this daily newspaper, have dared to question on the financial illegalities that involved those close to the government, are now threatened with imprisonment and heavy fines.

This is unacceptable.

The Algerian journalists have paid a heavy price for the fight against Islamic Fundamentalism. Now, an iniquitous penal code turns the practicing of their profession into an act of delinquency. The repression of the press in Algeria adds to the serious attacks attempts against freedom of the press we are witnessing throughout the world.

All of us who were demanding the realease of Florence Aubenas, Hussein Hanoun al Saadi and of all the journalists held hostages or incarcerated in Iraq, demand also the liberation of Mohamed Benchicou, the release of the journalists of the “Matin” and the end of all persecutions of our Algerian brothers and sisters.

We support Youssef Rezzoug and Yasmine Ferroukhi, Habla Chérif, Hassane Zerroukhi.

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