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Blogger arrested for posting cartoons of Algeria's president

Algerian blogger Abdel Ghani Aloui has been detained for posting cartoons on his Facebook account mocking President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (pictured above)
Algerian blogger Abdel Ghani Aloui has been detained for posting cartoons on his Facebook account mocking President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (pictured above)

REUTERS/Louafi Larbi

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) was gravely disturbed by the Algerian authorities' broad use of its terrorism law in silencing those with opposing opinions and subjecting them to criminal trials based on their Internet posts.

On 9 October 2013, security forces arrested blogger Abdel Ghani Aloui, 24, for posting on his Facebook account a caricature mocking Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

An investigation into his conduct began on 10 October before an investigative judge at the Algerian court over accusations of compromising the authority, insulting the president and inciting terrorism. The judge decided to keep the blogger in detention whilst the investigation is ongoing.

In charging Aloui with inciting terrorism, the authorities referred to a scarf found in his home with the words "There is no God but Allah" written on it. They regarded the scarf as evidence.

"Charging the blogger with inciting terrorism based on false evidence is a pretext used by the authorities to mislead the public and hide their politically charged motives for arresting and trying him in a criminal court," said ANHRI.

ANHRI expressed worry over the Algerian authorities' increased use of the term terrorism in targeting opposition voices and opinion makers in the country. ANHRI likened the situation to that in Morocco, where terrorism-related charges have also been on the rise and where they have also been used to gag political opponents.

Moroccan authorities recently arrested the prominent journalist Ali Anouzla, who is now facing trial over accusations of supporting terrorism for posting a link to a video by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) on the website of the magazine he works for.

ANHRI calls on the Algerian authorities to stop this farcical trial and to release the blogger being prosecuted simply for his legitimate right to express his opinion.

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