(NEW YORK) — In response to reports that Algerian authorities have arrested researcher Raouf Farrah as part of the government’s broad and escalating crackdown on civil society and free expression in the country, PEN America released comments from Justin Shilad, research and advocacy lead for the Middle East and North Africa.

Shilad said: “The Algerian authorities’ arrest of Raouf Farrah and his father, Sebti Farrah, as well as an Algerian court’s decision upholding the dissolution of the youth civil society group Rassemblement Actions Jeunesse (RAJ), puts freedom of expression and association in Algeria in a perilous state. By arresting journalists and researchers, pursuing a journalist and activist across international borders and shutting down human rights organizations, Algerian authorities appear to be betting on the international community’s silence as they turn back the clock on popular calls for democracy. We call on the Algerian government to immediately release Raouf Farrah – and all other detained academics, activists, and journalists – and to allow civil society organizations to operate freely.”

Algerian authorities arrested Farrah, who works as a senior analyst at the Geneva-based Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, and his father Sebti Farrah on February 14 at his family’s house in Annaba, according to his employer. On February 19 or 20, both Farrah and his father were charged with “receiving funds” to “disturb public peace,” and Farrah was charged with “spreading information and documents classified as secret,” the Global Initiative said in a follow up statement, which said his arrest appeared to be connected to the case of Amira Bouraui, an activist and journalist wanted by Algerian authorities. His arrest comes after that of the journalist Mustapha Bendjema earlier this month and journalist Ihsane el-Kadi in December.

Additionally, an Algerian court upheld today a decision dissolving RAJ, on the heels of a similar decision ordering the closure of the Algerian human rights group LADDH, which was reported last month.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057