Independent Algerian paper faces closure threat

AP News
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Posted: May 04, 2016 9:09 AM
Independent Algerian paper faces closure threat

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Independent Algerian newspaper El Khabar is facing likely closure after the government cracked down on its ad revenue and challenged its pending sale in court.

The newspaper has been critical of the government, notably its handling of the gas-dependent economy.

The advertising agency for state companies banned ads in Arabic language El Khabar in 2014, at the request of the communications minister. Ads by state-run companies make up the vast majority of ad revenues for Algeria's press, and Algerian authorities in the past have used this as a tactic to silence critics.

El Khabar's income plunged after the government move, so it sold a majority stake to food industry magnate Issad Rebrab. The Communications Ministry alleged the deal was illegal for technical reasons.

An Algiers commercial court held a hearing Wednesday on whether to invalidate the sale, but delayed a decision until May 11.

Rebrab told The Associated Press that the legal action is "a power play against independent press in Algeria."