Algeria jails journalist for three years,Hong Kong media tycoon arrested

An Algerian journalist who played a prominent role in covering the country's pro-democracy movement last year has been jailed for "endangering national unity" and "inciting an unarmed gathering".
Khaled Drareni, editor of Casbah Tribune news website and correspondent of TV5 Monde and media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), was sentenced to three years in prison, his lawyer said on Monday.
Drareni had been in detention since late March. Along with sending him to prison, the court in capital Algiers also ordered the journalist to pay a fine of 50,000 dinars (about $400), according to the National Committee for the Release of Detainees.
During the trial, which was held by video conference because of the coronavirus, Drareni, 40, denied wrongdoing and said he was only working as an independent journalist and exercising his right to inform.
His supporters said the verdict was reminiscent of the tightly controlled era of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was pushed out by the mass demonstrations and whose successor promised a more democratic, open leadership.
While a new president was elected in December, the pro-democracy Hirak movement is seeking deeper change in a nation whose rulers have been shadowed by the army since it gained independence from France in 1962.
Weekly protests rocked Algeria for nearly a year since the popular movement began in February 2019 and came to a halt in March this year when the authorities banned the demonstrations to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

'Arbitrary and absurd'

In their case against Drareni, prosecutors cited a Facebook post in which he said the Algerian political system had not changed since the election of Abdelmadjid Tebboune as president, and that the journalist shared a call by multiple political parties for a general strike.
"Khaled Drareni was only doing his job of informing citizens. He did not commit a crime," one of his lawyers, Fetta Sadat, told The Associated Press news agency.
The verdict "is proof that Algerian justice is not free but an instrument in the hands of power that can be used to intimidate Algerians", he said.
The RSF dismissed Monday's verdict as "arbitrary and absurd" and called it "judicial persecution against a journalist who is the honour of his country", urging global mobilisation in his support.
At least one other Algerian journalist is currently awaiting trial, according to the media watchdog, which ranked Algeria 144th out of 180 countries in its 2020 Press Freedom Index.
Media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested under Hong Kong's national security legislation, and his newspaper raided, as he was accused of "colluding with foreign powers" in the most prominent arrest since China imposed the controversial law just over a month ago.
Lai's Apple Daily reported that 10 police officers arrived at the 72-year-old's home at about 7am (23:00 GMT on Sunday), and later began live streaming a raid on its headquarters by scores of police who could be seen looking through piles of papers including on reporters' desks.
Mark Simon, a senior executive at Lai's Next Media group, said on Twitter that the tycoon was "being arrested for collusion with foreign powers at this time".
The police confirmed the arrest of seven people aged between 39 and 72.
"Offences include collusion with a foreign country/external elements to endanger national security, Article 29 of the NSL.. Investigation is underway," the force posted on its official Twitter account. Article 29 relates to alleged offences, including  receiving any kind of support - directly or indirectly - from people overseas, and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. 
Lai's is the most high-profile arrest since China imposed the security legislation, triggering condemnation from activists within Hong Kong as well as from Western countries who feared the law would be used to crack down on critics and stifle reporting."This sends out a very negative message and, of course, it must have a chilling effect on people who would want to speak out and particularly on the news media," veteran Democratic Party politician Emily Lau told Al Jazeera. "This is a very, very disturbing development."
On Friday, the United States imposed sanctions on top officials from China and Hong Kong, including chief executive Carrie Lam, accusing them of curtailing the territory's freedoms. 
"The arrest of media tycoon Jimmy Lai bears out the worst fears that Hong Kong's National Security Law would be used to suppress critical pro-democracy opinion and restrict press freedom," Steve Butler, the Asia programme coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement. "Jimmy Lai should be released at once, and any charges dropped." 

Postponed elections

Hong Kong was a British colony for more than 100 years before it was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under the so-called "one country, two systems" framework that was supposed to ensure the territory's significant autonomy for at least 50 years.
Officials from Hong Kong and China have claimed the new law will not target freedom of speech or curtail the freedoms of people living in the territory.
Democracy activist Joshua Wong condemned Lai's arrest, and described the police raid as the "end of press freedom" and the "darkest day" for journalists.
Lai moved into publishing in 1990 after a successful career running clothing chain Giordano and founded the pro-democracy Apple Daily, which also has a Taiwan edition, in 1995. He was arrested earlier this year on charges of illegal assembly after taking part in the mass protests that began in the territory in June last year. On Friday, he was among a group of people charged for taking part in the annual June 4 commemoration of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.Before the security legislation was announced, the protests had calmed as the coronavirus pandemic took hold and the government restricted the size of public gatherings. On August 1, Lam said September's highly-anticipated Legislative Council elections would be postponed by a year because of the virus. 
The United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, earlier on Monday issued a joint statement saying they were "gravely concerned" at the decision to delay the poll as well as the "unjust" disqualification of candidates. The national security law was "eroding" the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong, it added."We support the legitimate expectations of the people of Hong Kong to elect Legislative Council representatives via genuinely free, fair and credible elections," the countries' foreign ministers said, urging the government to reinstate the eligibility of the disqualifiied candidates and enable elections to be held as soon as possible.
Wong was one of the candidates barred from standing in the election.
Only half the seats in the 70-member council are chosen by direct election, with 30 reserved for special interest groups and the remaining five occupied by district councillors who are popularly elected. The democracy camp won a landslide victory in those polls, which were held last November.

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South Punjab News : Algeria jails journalist for three years,Hong Kong media tycoon arrested
Algeria jails journalist for three years,Hong Kong media tycoon arrested
The police confirmed the arrest of seven people aged between 39 and 72.
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