Independent Algerian paper faces closure threat

Independent Algerian newspaper El Khabar is facing likely closure after the government cracked down on its ad revenue and challenged its pending sale in court.

The newspaper has been critical of the government, notably its handling of the gas-dependent economy.

The advertising agency for state companies banned ads in El Khabar in 2014, at the request of the communications minister. Ads by state-run companies make up the vast majority of Algerian ad revenues.

The paper's income plunged, so it sold a majority stake to food industry magnate Issad Rebrab. The Communications Ministry alleged the deal was illegal for technical reasons, and an Algiers commercial court is expected to rule Wednesday on whether the sale was valid.

Rebrab calls the legal action "a power play against independent press in Algeria."