Press freedom declined further in 2005, with a record 114 prosecutions of journalists resulting in 111 fines or prison sentences, some suspended. Few cases were dismissed and some are still going on.
Newspapers were always sued for supposed libel and have been hounded since President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s re-election in April 2004, with censorship, repeated police summonses, government prosecutions and biased judges that often oblige journalists to censor themselves. But a few stubborn journalists battle on, accumulating huge fines and prison sentences while remaining outspoken.
Mohamed Benchicou, managing editor of the daily Le Matin, was still in prison at the beginning of 2006 despite his worsening health. He has been convicted of (or is being prosecuted for) nearly 50 press offences at the behest of the president, who has not forgiven him and the paper for campaigning against his re-election and writing a book called “Bouteflika, an Algerian sham” on the eve of the election.