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Algerian court hands suspended prison sentence to activist over Facebook post

An Algerian diaspora activist was handed a suspended prison term by an Algerian Court for a 2014 Facebook post criticising government discrimination against a minority group, Human Rights Watch reports.

Salim Yezza was arrested at the Biskra airport as he was about to return to Paris last month.

An investigative judge ordered him held in Ghardaia prison on July 16. The first instance court in Ghardaia sentenced him to the suspended prison sentence and a 100,000-dinar fine (US$840) on charges of inciting a public gathering.

The indictment, which HRW reviewed, stated that Mr Yezza had published a post that allegedly contributed to the violence in Ghardaia during the deadly ethnic clashes between Arabic and Berber communities.

However in the post Mr Yezza had simply criticized the “silence of many in Algeria in the face of the oppression against the Mozabites,” and said certain parties and groups “are making alliances with the criminal Algerian regime and its institutions.”

“No one should be prosecuted for their peaceful advocacy for the rights of minorities or for criticizing Algeria’s discriminatory policies,” Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director said.