Tunisia - After closing radio station's premises, authorities harass its journalists



    MONTREAL, Feb. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Radio Kalima journalist Zakia Dhifawi
was arrested by six plain-clothes policemen yesterday afternoon as she was
leaving a trade union building in Tunis and was held for an hour at the
Charles de Gaulle Street police station, where she was subjected to
humiliating treatment. Kalima trainee journalist Faten Hamdi was meanwhile
threatened with prosecution yesterday, three days after she was briefly
arrested.
    "It is intolerable that the staff of Kalima, Tunisia's sole independent
radio station, are being subjected to the same kind of harassment to which all
independent journalists are exposed," Reporters Without Borders said. "After
closing the radio station's premises and confiscating its equipment, the
police are now clearly targeting its staff with the aim of making their lives
so difficult that they leave Tunis and stop working as journalists."
    After being taken to the police station, Dhifawi was put in a room on her
own. Then two women police officers came, forcibly undressed her and subjected
her to a body search. Before releasing her, the police warned her that she
could be subjected to the same kind of "punishment" every day as long as she
stayed in Tunis and continued to work for Kalima.
    Dhifawi had been questioned by police for three hours the day before (10
February) about her work for Kalima. On that occasion, she was threatened with
being prosecuted and imprisoned if she did not stop.
    A writer who also works occasionally for the opposition weekly El
Mouwatinoun, Dhifawi spent 102 days in prison last year after covering and
participating in a march in support of the protests in the Gafsa mining
region. Since then, she has not been able to resume her work as a teacher in
Kairouan (120 km south of Tunis).
    Meanwhile, members of the political police yesterday told Hamdi, 24, that
she would be imprisoned if she continued to work for Kalima. On 7 February,
she was arrested on Habib Bourguiba Street in Tunis and was held for three
hours, during which she was threatened with prosecution.
    Three journalists working for the satellite TV station El Hiwar Ettounisi
were also arrested on 7 February and threatened with prosecution if they did
not abandon their journalist activities.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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