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Algerian Journalist Placed in Pretrial Detention for Alleged Defamation

Demonstrators shout slogans during an anti-government rally in Algiers, Algeria Dec. 27, 2019.

The director of an Algerian internet radio station has been placed in pretrial detention after a new charges were pressed against him, a prisoner rights group said Friday.

Sarbacane chief Abdelkrim Zeghileche was put in pretrial detention on Thursday after the governor of Constantine, 430 kilometers (260 miles) east of Algiers, lodged a defamation complaint against him, said Kaci Tansaout, head of the CNLD prisoner rights group.

The journalist was immediately brought before a judge who ordered his detention, Tansaout told AFP, adding that the trial was scheduled for December 31.

In another case against Zeghileche, the court will rule on January 7 on a charge of "insulting the head of state."

That case is based on a complaint lodged while former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was still in power.

The veteran leader stepped down after a 20-year rule in April in the face of an unprecedented popular movement that broke out in February and has continued since, demanding the removal of the entire regime.

The prosecutor requested one year's imprisonment in that case, said the CNLD, which tracks people detained in connection with the protest movement.

According to the CNLD, nearly 180 protesters, activists and journalists have been placed in pretrial detention since June for links to the protests.

Most have been held on charges of subverting the state, insulting the army and disturbing the peace.