An Algerian court on Monday sentenced journalist Khaled Drareni to three years in prison for speaking out against the government.
Drareni, who is well known in Algeria and has a twitter account of roughly 150,000 followers, reported on the Hirak protest movement, where Algerians are speaking out against the rule of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and his ascension to the office through a rigged election.
At trial, prosecutors used evidence of a Facebook post where Drareni expressed dissatisfaction with the current administration and showed support for a general strike. The court found that his comment “endanger[ed] national unity” and “incit[ed] an unarmed gathering.”
Drareni has been in jail since March. His attorneys issued a statement declaring, “All he did was give information, in words and images. He did nothing more than his work as a journalist.”
Some state that Drareni’s sentencing is reflective of the anti-press governance in Algeria. A 2016 Freedom House report designates the country’s press status as “not free.” Although the Algerian constitution guarantees a right of freedom of expression, the government operates state-run television, controls newspapers, and oversees online communication.
Reporters Without Borders, an international nonprofit that defends the right to share information, spoke out against Drareni’s sentencing and stated he should be released.