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National daily's correspondent detained in eastern city

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by the 9 June 2009 arrest of Rabah Lamouchi, the national Arabic-language daily "Ennahar"'s correspondent in Tebessa (460 km east of Algiers), on the grounds that he was not officially accredited by the newspaper. This is denied by the paper's editor, who told Reporters Without Borders it was just a pretext. Another "Ennahar" correspondent was held for three days last month.

"This case is disturbing because an Algerian judge is attacking a national daily regarded as pro-government," Reporters Without Borders said. "The allegation that its correspondent lacks accreditation is just an excuse for intimidating the staff and silencing reporters who write about the corrupt practices of local officials. We call for his release."

After being arrested at his home yesterday morning by members of the national gendarmerie, Lamouchi was interrogated by the head of the Tebessa criminal investigation department. A judicial detention order was finally issued yesterday evening.

"We were all surprised by this," "Ennahar" editor Anis Rahmani told Reporters Without Borders. "It is a dangerous way to proceed, and threatens the healthy climate prevailing in the national press. Whenever our correspondents report allegations of fraud or local criminal practices, the courts intervene and try to silence journalists who are just doing their work. This case is a ploy, a sham."

Jamel Bourdiz, "Ennahar"'s correspondent in Skikda (300 km east of Algiers), was also the target of intimidation by local police and judicial authorities at the end of last month. He was arrested on 26 May and spent three days in custody while the police "investigated" an alleged case of embezzlement.

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