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Algerian blogger sentenced to ten years for communicating with Israeli official

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A court in the Algerian city of Béjaïa court sentenced a blogger to ten years in prison on Thursday for communicating with Israel and inciting civil disobedience. Marzouk Touati was also fined 50,000 dinars ($430). The Attorney General of the Béjaïa Judiciary Council had asked for a life sentence.

The case dates back to January last year, following the massive protests in Béjaïa against the Finance Act 2017. Touati posted a video on his website of a dialogue that he had with someone alleged to have been the official spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry for Arab media.

After Algerian security forces raided his house and confiscated his computer, they apparently concluded that the accused had relations with several people who had escaped from Algerian justice and were living in Arab countries like Morocco. Touati also had other relations with people from countries including Israel, where he was in contact with local activists. One of the Israeli activists was called “Gabrielle Qatouf” and asked for information about the property of Jews in Algeria in exchange for money, which the blogger refused to provide.

The Attorney General claimed that Touati asked the activists to present him with an Israeli official to deal with. Someone identified as a colonel in the intelligence services and a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry for the Arab media then conducted a dialogue with him. The defendant is said to have provided him with information about races and ethnicities in Algeria, as well as his own CV and university certificates in order to travel to Israel.

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