Algerian authorities have arrested prominent independent journalist Isane El-Qadi and shut down the Radio M internet station. The Radio M Internet station was considered the last place for free political debate in the country.
Six plainclothes police officers arrested El Qadi early Saturday morning at his home in a village east of the capital Algiers, according to his family. He was then shackled and taken to Radio M’s offices in the capital, where police removed computers, cameras and other equipment before cordoning off the premises.
“Radio M and its sister site Maghreb Emergent website were basically the last media space where people could discuss politics and publish critical articles without censorship,” he said. Algerian journalist Daika Dridi, who used to work for a broadcaster, said: “Webradio had a lot of shows where people could come together and freely discuss what was going on in the country.”
The international media freedom group Reporters Without Borders condemned El Qadi’s arrest and called on authorities to “respect the work of the domestic media.”
Algerian authorities crack down on dissenters after the coronavirus outbreak derailed leaderless protests that took thousands of people to the streets in cities across the country in March 2020 .
The so-called Hirak movement, demanding a democratic transfer of power, led to the expulsion of Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Abdelaziz Bouteflika was seeking his fifth term in office, despite having been largely absent for six years due to a debilitating stroke.
The Algerian army, which supports Bouteflika and controls the country’s politics, was forced to oust him after months of demonstrations, despite protesters’ demands for a democratic overhaul of the political system. refused to give in.
“My father has been the target of legal harassment for the last couple of years since Hirak,” said journalist’s daughter Tin Hinane El-Qadi. But he was a fighter and kept writing.”
There have been several lawsuits involving the father in recent years, but the family “seems serious this time and is concerned that they have decided to shut down the site and keep him in jail.” she said.
Radio M founder El-Kadi has been acquitted of two previous lawsuits related to his writings. He was given his six-month sentence earlier this year, which was postponed until the High Court heard an appeal. His family and lawyers say his arrest has nothing to do with the incident.
His family believes his recent arrest may be linked to a column he wrote this month about whether the military will support President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for a second term in 2024. . Under Bouteflika,” Tin Hinane El-Khadi said.