Algeria frees four jailed Hirak activists

Algerian authorities release four protesters who were jailed for their role in the months-long "Hirak" reform movement.

76 Hirak activists have been released from jail

Protesters continue to demand systemic reform

ALGIERS - Algerian authorities on Monday freed four protesters who were jailed for disrupting campaigning for the December election to choose a successor to ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, an activist group said.

The four were sentenced to 18 months in prison in November for their role in the months-long "Hirak" reform movement, which has kept up mass rallies since Bouteflika's ouster last April.

The CNLD prisoners' rights group said the four were released on appeal.

A total of 76 Hirak activists, either awaiting trial or serving a sentence, have been released from jail, most of them in Algiers, it said.

The CNLD said the four were jailed for "hindering" the election process after they tried to block a November 17 rally in the northwest city of Tlemcen for former premier Ali Benflis, one of the five presidential candidates.

The candidates needed heavy police protection during rallies, where clashes often erupted between police firing tear gas and protesters hurling stones and other projectiles.

On December 12, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who once served as prime minister under Bouteflika, was elected in a vote marred by low turnout.

Nearly a year after the Hirak movement began, protesters continue to demand systemic reform and the resignation of government officials.