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World¹s Press Condemns Attacks on Journalists

Paris, France and Darmstadt, Germany,
For immediate release


The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) today condemned the beating of a Tunisian journalist, allegedly by police, and the arrest of another, and called on the Tunisian authorities to abandon their campaign of intimidation against the independent press.


Journalist Slim Boukhdhir was assaulted by four men, allegedly police in civilian clothes, on Wednesday night, hours after giving an interview to the BBC about the recent presidential elections. He was kidnapped, blindfolded, beaten and stripped of his clothing before being dumped in a public park.


In a separate incident, journalist Taoufik Ben Brik was arrested on Thursday following publication of critical articles on the recent re-election of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. The articles had prompted angry reactions in state-run newspapers. The charges involve the alleged assault of a woman but appear to be politically motivated.


WAN-IFRA, the global association of the world¹s press, called on the Tunisian government to thoroughly investigate the attack on Slim Boukhdhir and bring its perpetrators to justice, to drop the charges against Taoufik Ben Brik, and to stop harassing independent journalists and the independent press in Tunisia.


Media in Tunisia are largely under state control or influence. Journalists who criticise the government or report on corruption face harassment, intimidation and imprisonment. President Ben-Ali, who has held office since

1987 and was re-elected Sunday with nearly 90 percent of the vote, had warned critics that the law would be ³brought to bear on anyone casting accusations or doubts on the integrity of the electoral process without solid evidence.²


Following the elections, local media accused a ³tiny minority² of Tunisians of treason and of providing assistance to foreign journalists to cast doubt on the result of the elections, which saw the ruling party maintain its large majority.


WAN-IFRA is a member of the Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of 20 member organisations of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX).


More WAN-IFRA press freedom protests can be found at


http://www.wan-press.org/pfreedom/rubriques.php?id=304


WAN-IFRA, based in Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany, with subsidiaries in Singapore, India, Spain, France and Sweden, is the global organisation of the world¹s newspapers and news publishers. It represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. The organisation was created by the merger of the World Association of Newspapers and IFRA, the research and service organisation for the news publishing industry.


ENDS


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