Abbas Madani (L) and Ali Belhadj
were released after 12 years

One foreign journalist, who asked not to be named, said the Algerian authorities “did not appreciate our broadcasting images of the liberation” of Madani and Belhadj.

“The authorities have asked us to leave so as to avoid giving too much publicity to Belhadj,” he said.

Earlier, the Communications Ministry asked foreign media networks not to cover the release of banned Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) second-in command Ali Belhadj.

The official reason given by the authorities for the journalists’ expulsion was “undermining the sovereignty of the state,” said the journalist.

France’s privately owned TF1, state-run France 2 and 3 and the parliamentary channel LCP were all ordered to leave Algeria, along with Belgium RTBF.

The TF1 team left Algiers on Thursday morning. The other networks were expected to leave later in the day.

FIS leaders

Belhadj came the forefront of Algeria’s political scene in the 1980s by giving anti-government speeches.

He was the last remaining FIS official still in prison when he was released from a military jail.

Madani, who had been sentenced to jail with Belhadj in 1992, was released from prison in 1997 and placed under house arrest at his home in the capital.

Both men were issued a court order barring them from speaking in public or resuming political activities as soon as they were released.