Algeria frees first democracy activists after presidential pardons

Algeria has released more than 30 pro-democracy activists from jail, including a prominent journalist, in the first batch freed under presidential pardons. It comes ahead of the second anniversary of a popular uprising, which swept former strongman Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power in 2019.

Video Transcript

- Algerian journalist Kahled Drareni arrives at his parents' house after being released from prison.

KHALED DRARENI: I want to thank all those who have shown solidarity with me, who have supported me, whether in Algeria or abroad, because their support is priceless. Thank you all.

- He is one of 30 pro-democracy activists who have been freed ahead of the second anniversary of protests that brought down former President Bouteflika. The Hirak demonstrations were sparked by President Bouteflika's 2019 announcement to stand for a 5th term. The movement only suspended its rallies in March last year amid coronavirus restrictions. But has recently gathered new momentum, prompting a raft of presidential pardons by the incumbent Abdelmadjid Tebboune in a bid to appease protesters.