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Moroccan reporter turned back on arrival, disputes between two countries blamed

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns Moroccan journalist Yahya Bentahar's deportation on 15 July 2009, shortly after he landed at Algiers airport. Bentahar, who works for the Rabat-based weekly "Assahrae Al Ousbouiya", had planned to do a report on the political situation in Algeria in the wake of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's reelection.

The Algerian embassy in Rabat had told "Assahrae Al Ousbouiya" editor Mohamed Reda Taoujni prior to the trip that he could send a reporter.

"This is the latest in a long list of similar incidents that this newspaper has experienced at the hands of the Algerian authorities," Reporters Without Borders said. "Algeria's borders should be open to foreign journalists, including those from Morocco. The press should not be made to suffer because of the disputes between two countries. The Algerian authorities must explain why they did not keep their word."

Bentahar was met by several security officials on his arrival at Algiers airport and was interrogated about the reasons for his visit and his contacts in Algeria. After refusing to hand over his diary and files, he was escorted back to the plane on which he had arrived.

Taoujni, who is also president of the Moroccan Sahara Association, said he tried to get an explanation from the Algerian embassy in Rabat. "The Algerian authorities must be very irritated with our constant criticism of the recent presidential election and our pro-unification vision of Western Sahara," he said.

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