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Security forces beat, detain media worker overnight for breaking curfew

(SEAPA/IFEX) - The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) is alarmed to learn that East Timor security forces detained and assaulted a layout artist with a local daily, who violated the night curfew imposed after a state of emergency was declared following attacks on the country's top two leaders.

On 23 February 2008, at 1:00 a.m. (local time), Agostinho Da Costa left the "Timor Post" office in Fomento, Dili, to deliver to a printing house in Caicoli the final version of the newspaper edition to be issued that day. A patrol unit of the military police intercepted him in Colmera and proceeded to arrest and beat him although he showed them his press credentials, the newspaper's director, Jose Ximenes, told the Timor Lorosa'e Journalists Association (TLJA).

While being interrogated at the Dili District Headquarters, Da Costa was subjected to further assault from the national police and was only released after 11 hours, reports TLJA, SEAPA's local partner, who said Da Costa sustained injuries on his face and stomach.

TLJA President Virgilio Gutteres has condemned the unwarranted action of the military and national police, stressing that the point of the emergency declaration was to guarantee the safety of the people, including that of journalists. TLJA has already sent an official protest to the acting president, Fernando de Araujo. TLJA told SEAPA that there have been no restrictions on journalists' mobility so far, with the exception of the blanket night curfew that has led to some 200 people arrested as security forces search for rebels believed to be involved in the 11 February attacks that left President Jose Ramos-Horta critically wounded.

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