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dimanche 11 décembre 2016

British-Algerian journalist dies after hunger strike

A British-Algerian journalist has died after staging a hunger strike in protest against a two-year jail term for offending Algeria’s president in a poem posted online, according to his lawyer.
“I can confirm the death of the journalist Mohamed Tamalt in Bab el-Oued hospital after a hunger strike of more than three months and a three-month coma,” Amine Sidhoum said on Facebook.
The prison service said in a statement Tamalt had died of a lung infection for which he was receiving treatment since it was detected on 4 December. He had been in hospital since the end of August. Tamalt, a dual national, launched the hunger strike on the day of his arrest near his parents’ house in the capital Algiers on 27 June, according to Human Rights Watch.
The 42-year-old blogger and freelance journalist, who ran a website from London where he lived, was charged with offending President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and defaming a public authority, in the poem he shared on Facebook. A court in Algiers sentenced him to two years in prison on 11 July and fined him 200,000 dinars (£1,400). An appeals court upheld the ruling a month later.
Amnesty International urged Algerian authorities on Sunday to open an “independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances” of the journalist’s death.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it was shocked by Tamalt’s death which had dealt a blow to freedom of information in Algeria. “Why was there such a conviction just for words on Facebook which did no harm to anyone?” said Yasmine Kacha, head of the north Africa department of RSF.
HRW had urged Algerian authorities to release him in August when he was reportedly in critical condition. “The Algerian authorities should quash the case against Tamalt and send the message that free speech will be respected in Algeria,” it said at the time.

The Guardian
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