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Human rights activist prevented from travelling to support Egyptian journalist in trial

(HRinfo/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information has condemned the denial of the right to travel and movement inflicted upon former prisoner of conscience, lawyer Mohamed Abbu by the Tunisian authorities. He was prohibited from travelling to Cairo to attend the trial of Ibrahim Essa, editor in chief of the independent "Aldostur". The trial is set to take place on 24 October 2007.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information invited Abbu in coordination with the National Council for Freedoms in Tunisia to attend and follow Essa's trial as a step taken by Tunisian activists to declare their support for the Egyptian journalists who are facing repression by the government, which is jeopardizing the existence of the independent press in Egypt (see IFEX alerts of 2 October, 28, 13, 7 and 5 September 2007).

It is the second time the Tunisian government denies Mohammed Abbu the right to travel within two months of his release. In August, he was prevented from flying to London for an interview with Aljazeera channel (see alert of 24 August 2007).

This denial is unlawful and is solely based on the Tunisian Police's arbitrary decision as his release did not contain any indication to prohibit him from leaving Tunisia.

Abbu has become one of the most prominent prisoners of conscience in the Arab world after the Tunisian authorities prosecuted him and sentenced him to three years in jail for writing an essay published on the internet in which he criticizes the conditions of prisons in Tunisia. He was freed in July after an Arab and international campaign took place to release him after spending two years in the notorious Tunisian Kaf prison.

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