Pakistan Press Foundation is concerned over two-year imprisonment of a freelance journalist in Algeria

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) in a letter to Abdelmalek Sellal, Prime Minister of Algeria expressed concern over the arrest of a freelance journalist Mohamed Tamalt who has been in prison since June 27.

PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali in his letter urged the government of Algeria to revoke case against Mohamed Tamalt and stop imprisoning people for offending public officials as it is unfair and against freedom of speech.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), police arrested Tamalt, near his parents’ house in Algiers for posting a video on Facebook featuring a poem considered to be offensive to Algeria’s president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Tamalt is a freelance journalist, having dual British and Algerian nationality. After his arrest he is on a hunger strike because of which his condition is serious.

On April 2, Tamalt shared a video on his Facebook page in which President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is welcoming former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The poem in the video included offensive wordings about Bouteflika, which was also uploaded in his online journal. These offenses carry no prison terms but only fines. But on June 28, police took him to the investigative judge Algiers First Instance Court of Sidi Mhamed. Under article 144bis and 146 of the penal code judge ordered two-year prison sentence.

The court dropped his appeal for bail on July 4. His lawyer Noureddine Benissad said, court also charged Tamalt under article 144, for an offense against a public official which is punishable for two years in prison. The same day, court punished for two years imprisonment and imposed a fine of 200,000 dinars (US$1,800).