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Censorship unabated in Tunisia

Pelting protest: A Tunisian demonstrator throws a rock during clashes with security forces in Regueb, near Sidi Bouzid on January 10, 2011. Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali blamed weekend rioting that left at least 14 people dead on 'gangs of thugs', dismissing increasing concern from the international community.

Tunisian journalist Nissar Ben Hassen of Radio Kalima was arrested Tuesday after posting video footage of events in Chebba, 65 km north of the city of Sfax, online. He was editing another video on the violence in Mahdia at the time of his arrest, according to Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF).

Members of a special presidential unit arrested him shortly after midday at his home in Chebba. It is not known where they took him. Police meanwhile continue to ring the offices of the Tunisian journalists’ union and the newspaper Al-Maouqif in Tunis.

Moez Jemai, Radio Kalima’s correspondent in Gabes (400 km south of Tunis), was arrested by four plainclothes policemen on January 6. He was sprayed with a disabling gas, pushed into an unmarked car and driven to the interior ministry in Tunis, where he was mistreated during interrogation about his coverage of recent events in Sidi Bouzid. He was freed in Tunis on the evening of January 8.

Wissem Essghaier, a student and active member of the youth section of the Progressive Democratic Party, who also works for the party newspaper Al-Maouqif, was arrested on January 7 near the party’s headquarters while waiting to meet a foreign journalist.

RSF has also learned that two netizens detained last week, Hamadi Kaloutcha and Slah Eddine Kchouk, were freed on January 8 and 9 respectively. The rapper El General has also been released. But RSF is still without news of Slim Amamou and Azyz Ammami. They may be taken before the judicial authorities in the coming days. They have not been able to see a lawyer since their arrest on January 6.

Ammar Amroussia, the correspondent of the banned daily Al-Badil and its website (www.albadil.org), is still in jail in Gafsa (400 km south of Tunis). Arrested on December 29, he is facing up to 20 years in prison on charges under articles 42, 44 and 49 of the press code, articles 121, 131, 132, 220b, 315 and 316 of the criminal code and article 26 of a 1969 law on public meetings, processions, exhibitions, demonstrations and gatherings. He covered the recent events at Sidi Bouzid for Al-Badil and took part in many demonstrations in Gafsa, accusing the authorities of corruption and urging his compatriots to combat the “dictatorship”.

Date posted: January 12, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 141