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Journalist Abdallah Zouari's internal exile extended by 26 months

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has voiced dismay at Tunisian government methods of gagging all those who once dared to oppose it, as journalist Abdallah Zouari continued to pay a high price for his former work with "Al Fajr", the official organ of the Islamist movement Ennahda.

As Zouari reached the 5 June 2007 date which should have ended his internal exile, he had an extra 26 months added to his banishment, without any justification.

He was unable to obtain any explanation from the police chief in Zarzis, 500 km from the capital, where he is under close surveillance, while his wife and five children live in Tunis, where he was arrested. The police chief simply told him that his orders came "from above".

After serving 11 years in prison for "membership in an illegal organisation", Zouari was freed on 6 June 2002. He was again arrested and then sentenced, in October 2003, to 13 months in prison. He has lived in internal exile in Zarzis since his release in September 2004.

"His nearly 12 years in prison, to which was added five years of administrative control, has not been enough to dampen the zeal of the Tunisian authorities who continue to hound this journalist," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"We call for an end to his forced exile hundreds of kilometres from his family home," it said.

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