Algeria grants bail to blogger jailed over "insulting" cartoons

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Published Thursday, April 24, 2014

A young Algerian blogger, jailed since September for posting cartoons on the Internet mocking the president, has been granted bail ahead of his trial, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Abdelghani Aloui "was freed on bail on Wednesday by the indictment division of the court of Sidi M'Hamed in Algiers," Amine Sidhoum told AFP.

The trial date has not yet been fixed.

Aloui, 24, faces several charges, including "attacking the person of the president" and "contempt", for publishing cartoons on his Facebook page ridiculing Bouteflika and then prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal.

His release comes a week after the 77-year-old leader won a fourth term in office despite his age and chronic health problems.

The security forces had also found a scarf at Aloui's home in the western city of Tlemcen with the Muslim declaration of faith "There is no God but God" written on it, which led to the charge of "defending terrorism," described by his lawyer as "excessive."

After his arrest, Amnesty International called on Algeria to immediately release the blogger and drop all the charges against him.

The London-based rights group accused the authorities of "vastly overreacting to what is nothing more than legitimate expression. Using terrorism-related charges to detain someone for sharing images on social media sites sets a very dangerous precedent."

In June 2012, another blogger received an eight-month suspended jail sentence and a 1,000 euro ($1,350) fine after calling on the Internet for a boycott of that year's parliamentary election.

(AFP)

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