Over 30 prisoners of conscience released in Algeria

The day after Abdelmadjid Tebboune announces the presidential pardon for members of Hirak imprisoned in the country, some 30 people were released.

More than 30 prisoners of conscience in Algeria, including journalist and activist Khaled Drareni, were released on Friday following a presidential pardon granted three days before the 2nd anniversary of the popular uprising in Hirak.

A total of 33 people have been released so far. The rest of the proceedings are underway, a statement from the Justice Ministry said without specifying their names.

Photos and videos relayed on social networks showed detainees reuniting with their relatives in several regions, including that of Koléa west of Algiers, where families and journalists waited all day to release the prisoners.

Release of Khaled Drareni

Among those released from Koléa is Khaled Drareni, sentenced to two years in prison last September and who has become the symbol of the fight for press freedom in Algeria.

“He is free”, declared Abdelghani Badi, one of the correspondent lawyers in Algeria of the channel TV5 Monde and Reporters Without Borders, specifying that it was a measure of “freedom provisional”.

The 40-year-old journalist appeared in social media footage upon his release from prison, carried by crowds of supporters.

Khaled Drareni is awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on February 25 on his cassation appeal.

Rachid Nekkaz also released

The opponent Rachid Nekkaz was also released, according to the National Committee for the release of prisoners (CNLD).

According to his entourage, Rachid Nekkaz, 47, incarcerated in El Bayadh prison, had started a hunger strike during the day to protest his prolonged detention, without trial, despite the deterioration of his state of health.

“We hope that the [presidential, ed] pardon is the first step towards a real political transition where the people will be sovereign,” declared the lawyer Badi in front of the prison of Koléa.

Presidential pardon

In his speech to the nation on Thursday, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said: “The blessed Hirak saved Algeria. I have decided to grant a presidential pardon. […] Between 55 and 60 people will join their families” by Friday evening.

According to the CNLD, some 70 people are in prison in connection with Hirak and/or individual freedoms.

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