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Al-Jazeera journalist barred repeatedly from covering events, roughed up by police

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an 8 April 2007 IFJ press release:

IFJ Condemns Police Assault and Ban on Aljazeera Correspondent in Tunisia

The International Federation of Journalists today protested over the exclusion of a journalist and union leader from reporting on a major political event in Tunisia.

"This action smacks of the censorship and intimidation which is regrettably a notorious feature of policy in dealing with independent media and dissident journalists," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.

The case involves Lotfi Hajji, the local correspondent for Aljazeera who is also President of the Tunisian Union of Journalists. The IFJ says it is the fifth time in the last month that he has been barred from reporting events.

The latest incident occurred when he turned up to cover a meeting organised by the Parti Progressiste Democratique in their new building situated in Ariana district just north of Tunis. His entrance into the building was blocked by police in plain clothes who roughed him up as he tried to enter. This was the fifth time in the last month that he has been prevented from covering different events by police.

"There is a pattern of intimidation here that is completely unacceptable," said White. "This journalist is being targeted either for his professional work or for his leadership of an independent journalists' group - and perhaps for both."

The IFJ has asked the Association of Tunisian Journalists to take up the case and to seek an assurance from the authorities that Aljazeera and other media will be able to work without interference.

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide.

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