June 15, 2006
Algerian Editor Released from Prison
As the director of the Algiers-based daily newspaper Le Matin, Benchicou served two years in prison–his full sentence. Before his conviction in June 2004, Benchicou and his newspaper criticized Bouteflika and other ministers in his government. In February 2004, Benchicou published a biography Bouteflika, an Algerian Fraud, prior to his re-election.
“Authorities claimed that Benchicou violated customs regulations to justify putting him in prison. But his real crime was attacking the president and his associates at a time when they were determined to mute such criticism,” Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division.
Such prosecutions and other pressures have significantly curbed press freedom in Algeria compared to seven years ago, when President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was first elected.