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Journalist who wrote about alleged corruption charged, placed under judicial control

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF is worried about a court decision in the city of Annaba (600 km east of Algiers) on 4 March 2008 to formally charge the national Arabic-language daily "Ennahar"'s correspondent, Noureddine Boukraa, and place him under judicial control as a result of a complaint by the region's public security chief.

"This is an example of the pressure that is brought to bear on journalists when they write about the alleged involvement of senior officials in corruption and influence-peddling," the press freedom organisation said. "The pressure is all the greater in the provinces where there is less media coverage and journalists are more exposed to the wrath of local officials."

The charges brought against Boukraa under the criminal code are "violating the confidentiality of a judicial investigation by use of classified documents," damaging the "reputation of a state entity" and libel. The prosecutor wanted him placed in pre-trial detention. Instead the court placed him under judicial control, which means he cannot leave the region and must report to the prosecutor's office every week.

Boukraa told RSF that the police have questioned him several times in recent months about a 12 November 2007 article in which, on the basis of leaked documents, he had accused members of the police of influence-peddling. He said he was surprised by the fact that he had been charged and by the severity of the charges. The complaint against him was brought by regional public security chief Draï Messaoud.

When the article was published, Boukraa was held overnight at the local headquarters of the judicial police. The next day, he was questioned by an investigating judge and then released.

Algeria was ranked 123rd out of 169 countries in the latest RSF world press freedom index. Click here ( http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=25428 ) to read the chapter on Algeria in this year's annual report on press freedom worldwide, which RSF issued on 13 February.

Updates the Boukraa case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/87655

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