(NEW YORK) –– PEN America today sharply criticized the “unjust” court verdict in Constantine, Algeria, sentencing scholar and writer Raouf Farrah to two years in prison on Tuesday, and his father Sebti Farrah to a suspended one year sentence. The free expression organization said the sentence shows the Algerian government is not only silencing its critics but going after their family members as well.

“This unjust sentence against Raouf Farrah and his father illustrates how far the Algerian government is willing to go to stamp out critical commentary and independent scholarship. By handing down these sentences, authorities are signaling that they will not only silence all critics but go after their family members as well. Both of these sentences should be overturned, and Algerian authorities should release Raouf Farrah at once,” said Justin Shilad, research and advocacy lead for the Middle East and North Africa.

Raouf and Sebi Farrah were both arrested in February, and though Sebti was granted bail in April, Raouf has remained behind bars since. Both were charged with and convicted of “receiving funds for the purpose of committing acts that would disturb the public peace,” and Raouf was also charged with and convicted of “receiving funds that would disturb the public peace.” Raouf is a Canadian citizen who works at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, where he researches migration and organized crime; Sebti is a Montreal-area resident.

The sentences come as Algerian authorities also handed down a two-year sentence against detained journalist Mustapha Bendjema, after he was initially detained in February, and last month added additional time onto the sentence of journalist Ihsane El Kadi.

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. To learn more visit PEN.org

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