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Current issues of three French publications banned on eve of presidential election

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the Algerian government's decision to ban distribution of the current issues of three French publications - "L'Express", "Marianne" and "Journal du Dimanche" - on the eve of the 9 April 2009 election, in which President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is running for a third term.

"This censorship is disgraceful," Reporters Without Borders said. "It constitutes a denial of press freedom and therefore a denial of democracy. Such measures unfortunately recur with some regularity in present-day Algeria. It is time the authorities allowed the country's citizens to have access to free and independent news and information."

The secretary of state for information announced that the latest (2-8 April 2009) issue of the weekly "L'Express", which has an article by Dominique Lagarde headlined "Abdelaziz and his people," was confiscated under article 26 of the 07/90 news media law.

The article says that: "Periodical and special publications, national and foreign, whatever their nature and their destination, must not include any illustration, account, information or insert which is contrary to Islamic morality, national values or human rights, or which condones racism, fanaticism or treason."

"L'Express" managing editor Christophe Barbier said: "We vigorously protest against the censorship of 'L'Express' this week in Algeria (. . .) This censorship is unacceptable." The offending article can be read on the magazine's website ( http://tinyurl.com/cn9kva ). The latest (4-10 April) issue of the weekly "Marianne" has a story headlined "Bouteflika, the last sultan." The offending article in "Journal du Dimanche" is headlined: "Algerians in France vote, polls despair". The offending articles can be read on the Internet.

Foreign publications are often seized by the Algerian authorities. "Afrique Magazine" was confiscated on 7 March because of an article by Farid Alilat entitled "Algeria, twilight of the generals," which supposedly violated "national values". The 30 October 2008 issue of "L'Express" was seized because of a cover story that was deemed to be an "attack on Islam". It was headlined: "Jesus and Mohammed - their itinerary, their message and their vision of the world". An issue of "Jeune Afrique" was banned in May 2008 because of an article on the Algerian region of Kabylie.

On 6 April 2009, Reporters Without Borders sent an open letter to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30769.

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