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Journalist Slim Boukhdir arrested again

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has protested against the arrest of journalist Slim Boukhdir, who according to latest reports is being held at a police station in the suburbs of Sfax, 231 kilometres south of Tunis.

Boukhdir, 39, who ended a two-week hunger strike on 14 November 2007 after the authorities promised that his passport would be restored to him, was arrested on 26 November during an identity check of collective taxi passengers travelling from Sfax to Tunis.

His lawyer Mohammed Abbou told Reporters Without Borders that the journalist had called him at 4:00 a.m. (local time) to say he had been arrested after an altercation with agents of the national guard who had been following him since the previous evening.

The journalist is a correspondent for the pan-Arab London-based newspaper "al Quds al Arabi" and the website of the satellite television station al-Arabiya as well as contributing to several websites, including Tunisnews and Kantara.

"We urge the Tunisian authorities to stop hounding Slim Boukhdir who has been harassed for years," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "He has suffered financial and official pressure, physical attack and now arrest. We wonder what was really behind his arrest given that the authorities were on that very day due to issue him a passport, which he has been denied for three years."

Boukhdir was taken to the Sakiet Ezzit police station in the Sfax suburbs. His lawyer said that police officers disregarded legal procedure. His arrest was not reported within the day either to his lawyers or the prosecutor's office as the law demands. He was due to go before a cantonal court in Sfax on 27 November, although no formal charges had officially been made against him.

One police officer told his wife that he was to be prosecuted for "insulting behaviour towards an official in the exercise of his duty", a charge carrying a one-year prison sentence.

Tunisian President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali is on Reporters Without Borders' list of the world's 34 press freedom predators.

Date posted: November 27, 2007 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 9