Algeria closes private TV channel over Islamist's comments

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 12, 2015 11:42 AM

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian authorities closed the offices of a private TV channel on Monday, the Communication Ministry said, days after it broadcast an interview with a former Islamist fighter who criticized President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The ministry had lodged a complaint against the El Watan TV station following the broadcast of comments from Madani Mezrag this month, in which he attacked Bouteflika for barring him from creating a political party.

The channel "operates in an illegal manner and broadcasts subversive content and was detrimental to state symbols", the Communication Ministry said in a statement.

The channel's management could not be reached for comment.

Mezrag spent the 1990s in the mountains fighting the military before surrendering in a truce. An estimated 200,000 people died during that decade in a war between Islamists and the army.

All private television channels in Algeria are based abroad and need authorization from the government to start operating in the North African country.

(Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Alison Williams)