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Three journalists arrested, questioned about sources and released

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

IFJ Calls on Algerian Government to Respect Democracy and End Harassment of Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today joined calls from Algerian journalists that the government respect journalists' rights and end its practice of intimidating and harassing media to get them to reveal their confidential sources.

Last week three journalists were arrested in the Algerian city of Tbessa after they published articles about security forces foiling a terrorist attack. They were all released without charges but only after hours of interrogations where police tried to get them to name the sources for their stories.

"Protection of sources is a cornerstone of press freedom and the Algerian government must respect it," said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. "This type of harassment is an attack on journalists' professional rights, and it compromises the ability of media to report in the public interest. If Algeria is serious about its commitment to democracy it will stop harassing journalists."

Abdallah Zarfaoui, a reporter for El Khabar, was arrested and held overnight on September 11, Driss Belkacem from El Shourouk Al Yawmi was also held for more than 5 hours on the 11th and Houari Ghrib from Al Nahar was arrested and held on September 13. All three were asked to reveal their sources for their articles.

The IFJ is supporting a petition circulated by the Tbessa Correspondents Association calling for an end to the harassment of reporters and for more protection of journalists' rights in Algeria. They are also asking for regulations regarding the protection of sources in "security" related media coverage.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

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