Algeria sentences researcher and journalist to prison

An Algerian court issued a two-year prison sentence for both an Algerian-Canadian researcher and an Algerian journalist on Tuesday, one of their legal representatives told media.

Raouf Farrah, aged 36, and Mustapha Bendjama, aged 32, were found guilty of disseminating classified information by the court in the eastern city of Constantine, said attorney Kouceila Zerguine, who represents Farrah.

Farrah was also convicted of receiving funds with the intent to engage in actions that might disrupt public order, the attorney stated on Facebook.

“They have both been sentenced to two years in prison,” Zerguine said, highlighting that they had already spent over six months in custody and that they planned to challenge the verdicts through the appeals process.

Farrah, a research analyst affiliated with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC), was apprehended on February 14 at his parents’ residence in Annaba, an eastern port city.

GI-TOC has initiated a global campaign advocating for his liberation, sharing Farrah’s image and displaying a countdown of the days and hours he has spent incarcerated on their website.

The researcher is married to a Canadian woman and has a four-year-old daughter.

Bendjama holds the position of editor-in-chief at Le Provincial, a privately owned newspaper headquartered in Annaba.

Since his engagement with the pro-democracy Hirak movement in 2019, he has been connected to multiple cases.

The journalist was detained on February 8 at his newspaper and charged with aiding French-Algerian political activist Amira Bouraoui’s travel from Algeria to Tunisia on the preceding day, despite Bouraoui being prohibited from exiting the country.

The Bouraoui incident, labeled by the Algerian government as an “unlawful exfiltration,” triggered diplomatic strains with France, which have recently been resolved.

The trial of Bendjama and the co-defendants charged with assisting the activist will be conducted independently on a date that is yet to be determined.

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