FEDERICO MAYOR DISMAYED BY SENTENCING OF ALGERIAN JOURNALIST OMAR BELHOUCHET

Paris, November 6 {No.97-206}- UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor today expressed consternation at the sentencing of Omar Belhouchet, publisher of the Algerian daily El Watan, to one year in prison.

According to press reports, the publisher was sentenced yesterday for making declarations implicating the Algerian authorities in the assassination of journalists in that country.

"I am dismayed by this prison sentence which signals out a journalist known for his professional competence and his devotion to press freedom. Omar Belhouchet has taken part in various UNESCO activities promoting media pluralism and independence and freedom of the press. I call on the relevant authorities to reconsider their decision. Imprisonment has never been a justified response to the exercise of freedom of speech," Mr Mayor declared.

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