Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is trying to interfere in the investigation in the case of journalist Khaled Drareni, by influencing judges, according to Drareni’s defense team.
Drareni, a correspondent for Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and French TV5, is accused of spying for the French embassy.
The journalist’s defense team stated that Tebboune’s position from Drareni is based on false accusations, indicating that he is not accused of spying or any other similar case.
Last Friday, during a televised meeting with four newspapers, the President accused the journalist, without naming him, of giving information to the French embassy.
Tebboune indicated that the journalist complained to French officials about his interrogation process.
The President also denounced a recent uproar on freedom of expression in the case of a number of journalists working in media institutions that have received money from abroad.
He was referring to two online newspapers and a radio station that were blocked for receiving foreign funds.
Tebboune also strongly attacked RSF, saying its Secretary-General is “racist and falsely claims to be democratic.”
The President was referring to Robert Menard, the former Secretary-General who left the organization 12 years ago believing he was still in his position.
Current RSF chief Christophe Deloire responded to the President’s accusations stressing that Drareni’s imprisonment is illegal.
Last week, Information Minister Ammar Belhimer said that some “journalists sew discord,” hinting at Drareni and the blocked media outlets.
On March 7, Drareni was about to take pictures of demonstrators when police arrested him and took him to a security center in Algiers’ eastern suburb, where he was detained for three nights along with several political activists.
Drareni is accused of “unlicensed protesting” and “incitement against national unity” and was placed in judicial supervision.
His defense lawyers stressed that the statements of top officials regarding cases before the judiciary are in violation of constitutionally guaranteed principles, namely presumption of innocence and separation of powers.
They indicated that this also amounts to direct interference in the judges’ work, which is prohibited by the penal code.