Ghoul has been held in prison since 24 May when the regional prefect and head of health services in Djelfa, south of the Algerian capital, filed a suit against him, said defence lawyer Khalid Bourayou.

According to Algeria's National Union of Journalists, Ghoul was jailed because he had "revealed abuses and excesses of which powerful regional officials were guilty".

Ghoul, who is also a human rights activist, had also denounced the rights situation in Djelfa in an interview with an Algerian newspaper.

He also brought to light a health scandal at the maternity ward at the local hospital in which 13 babies died.

Thirteen premature babies died at Djelfa hospital between 1 April and 8 May, allegedly of septicaemia, a kind of blood poisoning, after being moved from one ward to another, according to national radio.

Ghoul's lawyers are appealing his sentence.