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Algeria: HRW denounces detention and expulsion of Ahmed Benchemsi

August 21st 2019

Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international human rights NGO, denounced the detention on 9 August and the August 19 deportation of Ahmed Benchemsi, HRW’s director of communication and advocacy for the Middle East and North Africa.

"His arbitrary arrest and mistreatment send the message that authorities don’t want the world to know about the mass protests for more democracy in Algeria," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of the NGO. HRW clarified that Benchemsi was arrested on 9 August for 10 hours without being allowed to make a call. According to HRW, authorities "confiscated his cellphone and laptop computer, and ordered him to provide his passwords to unlock both devices, which he refused to do.” Then his passport was confiscated and he was summoned several times by the authorities, without the police ever citing the grievances against him. According to HRW, Ahmed Benchemsi, of Moroccan and American nationality, "entered Algeria lawfully and disclosed his professional affiliation when asked". “He had visited Algeria three times previously since 2017 for Human Rights Watch," says the NGO.

Former journalist, ex-founder and former director of Moroccan publications TelQuel and Nishan, as well as FreeArabs.com web magazine, Ahmed Benchemsi has twice been awarded the prize for best investigative journalist in the Arab world by the European Union.

“Benchemsi’s mistreatment is a sobering reminder of the risks faced every day by Algerian human rights defenders exposing and reporting on government abuses,” Kenneth Roth said.