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Tébessa-based reporter gets six months in prison

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the six-month jail sentence that a court in Tébessa (460 km east of Algiers) handed down on 14 July 2009 to Rabah Lamouchi, the local correspondent of the national Arabic-language daily "Ennahar", on charges of lacking press accreditation and defamation. Lamouchi has been held since his arrest on 9 June.

"These are trumped-up charges," Reporters Without Borders said. "In the absence of a national press card, it is the news media, not the Algerian authorities, who issue press accreditation to their own employees. In this case, the authorities are clearly trying to suppress information that Lamouchi has been reporting in his articles."

"Ennahar" editor Anis Rahmani told Reporters Without Borders: "This is a case of an abuse by local judicial authorities that undermines press freedom in Algeria. If Lamouchi had not had our newspaper's accreditation, we would have had to sue him for impersonation."

Rahmani added: "This is the first time that a journalist has been detained before his trial, before a court decided whether or not he was guilty. There is no doubt that the Tébessa district security chief was behind this sentence."

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