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IFJ demands freedom of movement for Moroccan journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - 21 September 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the measures by Algerian authorities against two Moroccan journalists who have been denied, without good reason, permission to leave their hotel in Tindouf since Saturday 18 September. The IFJ backs its Moroccan affiliate, the Syndicat national de la presse marocaine (SNPM), which has demanded the lifting of the movement restrictions and the end of interrogations of the journalists by officials in Tindouf.

"Algerian authorities must respect journalists' right to freedom of movement across the country, especially free access to conflict zones so as the public can be properly informed," said Younes Mjahed, IFJ Senior Vice President. "The treatment meted out to our colleagues is not acceptable. It constitutes a violation of press freedom and shows a repressive attitude against professionals who are only doing their job."

According to the SNPM, the two journalists, Mohamed Slimani and Hassan Tigbadar, reporters for the weekly Assahra Al Ousbouaia were arrested in Tindouf by Algerian security officials on 18 September. They were in the area to report on the visit to the camps by Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, The "Polisario" Inspector General of Police.

The SNPM also says that the journalists have been questioned by Police for over three hours at the airport in Tindouf, in the south of the country. The authorities ordered them on 18 September not to leave their hotel. Their documents have also been seized by officials, according to sources in Assahra Al Ousbouaia.

The IFJ denounces the failure of Algerian authorities to heed the call from the SNPM for the release of the journalists and demands a speedy response to resolve the matter.

"We appealed to the authorities in Algeria from day one for the release of our colleagues. Unfortunately, they are still being held and being questioned every hour by various officials from the police, the gendarmerie and the army," added Mjahed. "This situation must end."

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