In commemoration of our friend and fellow countryman M. Tamalt passing away in circumstances not exactly very honorable, we reproduce herewith excerpts of 2 articles. On World Press Freedom Day, last May 3rd, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay said governments must work to protect the media and “investigate and bring to justice those responsible for violent assaults upon journalists.”
Research recently conducted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Middle East has shown that although the constitutions of the majority of Middle Eastern countries provide for freedom of expression, in reality conventional and international (including radio, satellite TV and the Internet) media remain under a restricted and intimidatory legal, political and security environment. [. . .]
A British-Algerian journalist had died six months after staging a hunger strike in Algiers over his detention for publishing articles seen as offensive to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, prison authorities and his lawyer said.
Rights groups called for an investigation into Mohamed Tamalt’s death – Reporters Without Borders said the news was a “hammer blow to all those who defend freedom of information in Algeria”.
The 42-year-old blogger and freelance reporter succumbed to a lung infection in hospital in Algiers on Sunday, the prison service said in a statement.
“I can confirm the death of the journalist Mohamed Tamalt in Bab el-Oued hospital after a hunger strike of more than three months and a three-month coma,” lawyer Amine Sidhoum said on Facebook.
Tamalt, who was based in London, was arrested in Algeria in June for posts he had shared on Facebook that were seen as critical of Algerian authorities.
Placed in pre-trial detention for “offending the president” and “defaming a public authority”, he was later given a two-year sentence for offence against a public official, according to Human Rights Watch.
“It is urgent that lawyers are allowed access to the journalist’s medical dossier,” Yasmine Kacha, North Africa director of Reporters Without Borders, said.
“A public apology should be presented to the journalist’s family and an investigation immediately opened,” she said in a statement.”
Algeria’s prison service said the hospital had been treating Tamalt for his lung infection, and he had been receiving daily treatment since beginning his hunger strike in late June.
(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Editing by Aidan Lewis and Andrew Heavens)
The Guardian elaborating adds that the 42-year-old blogger and freelance journalist, who ran a website from London where he lived, was charged with offending President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and defaming a public authority, in the poem he shared on Facebook. A court in Algiers sentenced him to two years in prison on 11 July and fined him 200,000 dinars (£1,400). An appeals court upheld the ruling a month later.
Amnesty International urged Algerian authorities on Sunday to open an “independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances” of the journalist’s death.