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Controversial book by independent journalist banned

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 2 November 2007 IFJ media release:

IFJ Condemns Action by Algeria to Ban Book by Jailed Independent Journalist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the banning at a book fair in Algeria of the controversial book Jailhouses of Algiers (Les geôles d'Alger) by journalist Mohamed Benchicou, a fierce critic of the government.

Benchicou was condemned to two years in jail in 2004 in Algeria on charges of illegal financial transactions in a case condemned by press freedom groups and journalists at the time as a cover for official action designed to stifle the criticism of the journalist, the founder and former director of the daily newspaper Le Matin, which went out of business in 2004.

The book stand was closed this week immediately after the opening of the international book fair in Algiers by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

"This book may make unpleasant reading for the government, but that is no excuse for banning it," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "The action of the authorities proves the point that is made by the author that the government in Algiers is intolerant of criticism and independent journalism."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries worldwide.

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