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Algerian authorities this week arrested a prominent Berber journalist and linguist in what appears to be a growing crackdown on dissent in the Kabylia region

ALGIERS, Algeria – Algerian authorities this week arrested a prominent Berber journalist and linguist in what appears to be a growing crackdown on dissent in the Kabylia region.

Both are accused of belonging to the Kabyle Autonomy Movement, a group supporting the Kabyle minority that the Algerian government considers a terrorist organization. They deny the charges.

They are among dozens of people arrested in recent weeks in what activists see as an effort by the authorities to both quell separatist sentiment and quell any remaining opposition from the pro-democracy Hirak movement that helped topple. longtime Algerian president in 2019.

The detained journalist, Mohamed Mouloudj of the French-language daily Liberté, was arrested Sunday at his home in Algiers, and ordered Tuesday to remain in pre-trial detention. He is accused of disseminating false information, attacking national unity and belonging to a terrorist organization, according to his family.

Another local reporter from the Kabylia region, the traditional home of the Berbers east of Algiers, was arrested last week in circumstances which remain unclear.

A leading Berber cultural figure, the writer and linguist Abdenour Abdeslam, was also arrested on Sunday and charged with belonging to a terrorist organization. He was charged and remanded in custody. Six other people have been arrested in recent days and have been charged in the same manner.

The government has not publicly commented on the arrests.

The Kabyle Autonomy Movement, known as MAK, is an unrecognized separatist movement in Algeria which has been campaigning since 2003 for the independence of the Kabylia region. While its existence has long been tolerated, the government declared it a terrorist organization under new law this year. Another organization, Rachad, allegedly Islamist, received the same label.

Algerian authorities have accused MAK of being responsible for the fires that ravaged Kabylia last month and killed more than 178 people, according to local officials. Since the fires, dozens of people accused of belonging to the MAK have been arrested and placed in preventive detention.

At the same time, an academic and Hirak activist, Fodhil Boumala, was remanded in custody on Tuesday and his home was searched, according to his lawyer Mustapha Bouchachi. The reason for the arrest is not clear.

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ABC News