(NEW YORK)— PEN America today condemned the “arbitrary” increase in the prison sentence against Algerian journalist Ihsane el-Kadi, which reportedly was raised to seven years, two of which are suspended. The organization called again for his immediate release. 

Justin Shilad, Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy lead at PEN America, said the increased sentence points to the “arbitrary nature of the charges and original sentence against him, as well as the deepening crackdown on free expression generally and press freedom in Algeria.”

Shilad added: “El Kadi’s imprisonment risks closing entirely the space for criticism and dissent that the Algerian people fought so hard to force open. Algerian authorities must release Ihsane El Kadi immediately, drop all remaining charges against him and other journalists, academics and activists, and roll back restrictive laws that hamper journalists’ ability to work and the public’s right to peaceful expression.”

In April 2023, a court in Algiers initially sentenced El Kadi, director of the news outlets Radio M and Maghreb Emergent to five years in prison, with two years of the sentence suspended, and ordered the dissolution of his media company. El Kadi was arrested December 29 and charged with accepting foreign funding after writing a column debating whether the Algerian military would back President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for a second term; he had also backed the Hirak protest movement, which had been demanding political change and led to the ouster of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

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