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Algerian blogger Touati Merzoug sentenced to 10 years in prison

An Algerian policeman guards prisoners at the Al-Harach prison in Algiers, 22 July 2009
An Algerian policeman guards prisoners at the Al-Harach prison in Algiers, 22 July 2009

FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 25 May 2018.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the ten-year jail sentence that the Algerian blogger Touati Merzoug received yesterday from a court in the western city of Béjaïa after more than a year in pre-trial detention. The sentence is disproportionate and unjustified, RSF said.

Held since 17 January 2017 in Béjaïa's El Khamis prison, Merzoug was convicted of "complicit relations with a foreign power" and "inciting rebellion" in connection with the Skype interview he posted on social networks on 9 January 2017.

In this interview, a person identifying himself as an Israeli diplomat said there had been an Israeli liaison office in Algiers in the 1990s. The court also fined Merzoug 50,000 dinars (360 euros).

"We condemn this disproportionate and unjustified sentence," said Souhaieb Khayati, the head of RSF's North Africa desk. "A social network post should not result in such a harsh punishment as imprisonment. We call on the judicial authorities to overturn this blogger's conviction."

Merzoug's lawyer said he would ask his client whether he wanted to appeal.

Algeria is ranked 136th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

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