Algeria - Reporters without Borders urges dismissal of case after ministry seeks one year jail sentence against journalist



    MONTREAL, Oct. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders said today it
was shocked that the public ministry had called for a one-year jail sentence
against journalist Noureddine Boukraa, at a court hearing in Annaba, 600
kilometres east of the capital Algiers on 13 October 2008. Sentence is due on
26 October.
    Boukraa, who worked for the daily newspaper Ennahar, was convicted of
three charges after the public security chief in Annaba, Draia Messaoud, laid
a complaint over an article on 12 November 2007, in which the journalist
accused members of the local police force of influence-peddling.
    He was charged with "breaching the confidentiality of an investigation by
using classified documents", "damaging the reputation of a constitutional
state body" and "defamation". Messaoud, who is a civil party to the case, is
claiming 60,000 dinars (700 euros) in damages.
    The journalist obtained his information from a former head of the
security branch of the police force, who has also been charged. Boukraa was
held in custody from March to June 2008.
    "The court has cast doubt on my profession as a journalist by charging me
with telling the truth", Boukraa told Reporters Without Borders. He said the
judges did not contest the reliability of what he reported but the fact of
divulging the information.
    "I am in no way obliged to preserve secrecy when an official stops
respecting his commitment to public service and is motivated by personal
gain", he added.
    "Noureddine Boukraa is facing prison for having exposed nepotism within
some services of the police. This case shows how some representatives of the
public ministry are subjugated to local bosses and their highly-placed
protectors," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
    "It would be completely unacceptable for the journalist to be jailed for
having sought to inform the public about certain abuses. We urge the court in
Annaba to dismiss and close the case", it added.

    Boukraa has now left Ennahar and is working for the daily newspaper
Algérie News.

    Algeria is ranked 121st out of 173 countries on Reporters Without
Borders' world press freedom rankings released on 22 October 2008. For more
information see: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=29035




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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