Algerian authorities must immediately release human rights lawyer Abderraouf Arslane and drop bogus “false news” and terrorism-related charges against him which stem from his defense of Hirak activists and the expression of his opinions online, said Amnesty International today ahead of the start of his trial on 30 November.
Abderraouf Arslane was detained on 26 May 2021 in the Court of Tebessa, where he was defending three activists – Aziz Bekakria, Redouane Hamidi and Azeddine Mansouri – who had been arrested earlier that day. After the hearing, the prosecutor ordered the detention of Arslane pending investigation on vague accusations of alleged ties with members of Rachad, an unregistered political movement, and his participation in public debates on the 2019-2021 Algerian protests, also known as the Hirak movement, neither of which are recognizable crimes under international law.
“It is terrible that the Algerian authorities are incarcerating a lawyer simply for doing his job and peacefully exercising his right to free speech. Abderraouf Arslane’s imprisonment and prosecution send a chilling message to lawyers across the country who dare to defend activists or speak up about human rights, especially in the context of the ongoing crackdown on dissent in Algeria,” said Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“The Algerian authorities must immediately release Abderraouf Arslane from arbitrary pre-trial detention, drop all unfounded charges against him, and cease the judicial harassment and intimidation aimed at unlawfully repressing his legal activities.”