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Last Updated: Friday, 2 July, 2004, 23:35 GMT 00:35 UK
Algeria suspends al-Jazeera work
By Paul Wood
BBC Middle East correspondent

The Algerian authorities say they have decided to temporarily freeze the activities of the Arabic satellite channel, al-Jazeera in the country.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Al-Jazeera broadcast criticism of Bouteflika
The international pressure group, Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders), say since February the accreditation of a number of foreign journalists, or Algerians working for foreign news outlets has been held up.

This may be the first time for more than 10 years that a foreign television channel in Algeria has been stopped from covering the news in this way.

The authorities there already operate a restricted visa policy for foreign journalists and have been involved in a conflict with the domestic, privately owned press.

That has been going on for months.

On 30 June, the Culture and Communications Ministry told al-Jazeera's correspondent in Algiers that his activities were frozen until further notice.

The official reason given was that a re-organisation of the work of foreign correspondents is in progress.

Journalists jailed

The pressure group, Reporters Without Borders says, however, that the measure was really taken in reprisal for a broadcast the previous week of a debate on the political situation in Algeria.

During that debate opposition figures openly criticised Algerian generals and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's national reconciliation policy.

Last month, journalists in Algeria set up a committee to press for the release of colleagues jailed recently in what they describe as a government campaign to silence dissenting voices.

One newspaper editor was imprisoned for two years accused of financial improprieties, while a correspondent received a two month prison sentence for the defamation of a retired general.

Commenting on press freedoms in Algeria, an editorial in the Arab language daily, El-Khabar, wrote that journalists have been caught red handed committing the crime of writing.

Algeria defends editor's jailing
16 Jun 04  |  Africa
Algerian papers stop presses
22 Sep 03  |  Africa
Algeria bars foreign press
03 Jul 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Algeria
24 May 03  |  Country profiles

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