13 journalists were detained by Algerian customs authorities at Oran airport on Thursday 23 June. The group of reporters was on its way to the Algerian city, host of the 2022 Mediterranean Games, to cover the sporting competition that brings together the countries of the three Mediterranean shores.
The Moroccan Alliance of Sports Journalists denounced the situation on social networks and through the media, deploring the lack of guarantees by the Algerian government and the attack on the press. According to the Moroccan association, the 13 reporters sent to Oran have all the necessary permits and accreditations required by the Organising Committee of the Mediterranean Games.
According to the Moroccan association, the 13 journalists spent the night of the 23rd to the 24th at the airport without their passports, which the Algerian authorities are said to have kept. The Moroccan Consulate in Oran is said to have tried to unblock the situation, without success for the Moroccan journalists. The EFE Agency was able to contact one of the detained journalists, Hamza Chtioui, a reporter for the digital newspaper Hesspress, the most widely read in the country, who confirmed the situation of helplessness in which he and his colleagues found themselves. Chtioui complains that the Algerian authorities did not give them anything to eat or drink during the hours they spent at the airport.
After almost 24 hours of detention, it is known that the Algerian authorities allowed four of the 13 journalists to enter. They are journalists from the public television channel 2M, whose audiovisual material was confiscated without further explanation.
Adil Rahmouni, secretary general of the Union of Journalists and a member of the delegation, told Atalayar by telephone that "we were surprised to see that they let in the delegation of sportsmen and referees we were accompanying from Morocco, but we were detained". Rahmouni explains how the authorities kept them for almost 30 hours in a room at the airport. "We could hardly sleep. It was impossible," he says.
According to Adil Rahmouni, the Algerian authorities denied them their status as journalists and accused them of being members of Moroccan intelligence, which was sent to Algeria to spy on them. For Rahmouni, who has a long career in sports reporting, the Algerian attitude is a catastrophe and a disgrace.
The Moroccan government has announced that it will repatriate the journalists who still have no access to Algeria via Tunisia. "We will arrive in Casablanca tomorrow, if everything goes well. But we are very disappointed," Rahmouni said by telephone from a hotel near the Tunis airport.
Relations between Morocco and Algeria continue to deteriorate and are now also affecting the world of sport and communication. Algeria has already hosted the Mediterranean Games twice. Adil Rahmouni explains that nothing like this has ever happened to him in his career, not even in Algeria. The journalists in the Moroccan delegation say they have not received any communication from the Organising Committee of the Mediterranean Games about this incident.
"This is the first time we have had this problem with Algeria. Even the 2M colleagues who came all the way from Paris had a lot of trouble getting their equipment back. I have never seen this before," concludes Rahmouni.