The Kabyle blogger Merzoug Touati was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Thirty year old Merzoug Touati, has been detained since he was arrested in Bejaia in January 2017, after protesting against the new finance law, by posting a video interview on his Facebook page, showing a spokesman from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Vgayet criminal court found him guilty and sentenced him to ten years in prison, as well as a fine of 50,000.00 DA for “mingling with the agents of a foreign intelligence power, likely to harm the military or diplomatic position of Algeria or its essential economic interests”. A crime which is punishable by up to twenty years in prison.
In this trial, the prosecution had required life imprisonment against the blogger.
The conviction is considerably unfair, given that Merrzoug has never held a position of responsibility which could give him access to information that he could have communicated to any foreign power. He has only had precarious jobs since he graduated from college. It is a one-way trial, solely against him. There have been no defense witnesses. The witnesses cited by the defense, are not summoned. It is a disproportionate file, with very serious charges in relation to the content.
Merzoug Touati was really down at the time of the verdict and very weak, recalling that the blogger had led seven hunger strikes since his imprisonment. Hamaïli, his lawyer, who pleaded the acquittal, said he was going to talk with his client on Sunday to find out if he decided to appeal.