Agence France Presse has vowed to continue covering “historic events” in Algeria despite the expulsion of its bureau chief from the country yesterday.
Aymeric Vincenot has been stationed in the capital city of Algiers since June 2017 but was forced to leave after authorities in the former French colony refused to renew his press accreditation.
The 45-year-old has been without a press card since the end of 2018, but his request for renewal received no response despite AFP’s “best efforts”.
AFP said its management has never officially been told by the Algerian authorities why this is, but said they mentioned “various grievances” in March “without ever offering any proof”.
Vincenot’s residency permit expired on 28 February, as his press accreditation was a key requirement of his visa, and he left the country after the expiration of a final deadline from police.
Algiers is facing largescale protests as thousands of people call for the resignation of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
AFP chairman Fabrice Fries said: “This arbitrary decision taken under the presidency of Mr Bouteflika is unacceptable.” He added that “in these circumstances” AFP would not replace Vincenot “for the time being”.
He said Vincenot’s expulsion would not stop AFP covering what is happening in the country, explaining the agency has already sent special envoys to Algeria and will keep submitting requests for journalist visas.
“By depriving us of our bureau chief, this decision seriously affects our presence in Algeria, which is there to provide exhaustive and rigorous coverage of the historic events that are currently underway,” Fries said.
But, he added: “We are not giving up.”
He also expressed AFP’s solidarity “towards Algerian journalists, who are bravely doing their work in particularly difficult conditions”.
Algeria is ranked 136th out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders’ (Reporters Sans Frontieres) Press Freedom Index for 2018.
Picture: Reuters/Ramzi Boudina