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The Tunisian authorities have again denied a prominent lawyer and human rights defender the right to travel freely, this time to support an Egyptian journalist on trial, reports the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRInfo).

Mohamed Abbou, a former prisoner of conscience who was released in July, was prohibited from travelling to Cairo, Egypt to attend the trial of Ibrahim Essa, the editor of a weekly magazine who faces up to four years in jail for reporting rumours that President Hosni Mubarak's health is deteriorating. Essa's trial has since been postponed until 14 November.

HRInfo condemned the Tunisian government's decision. "This denial is unlawful and is based solely on the will of the Tunisian police," says HRInfo.

Abbou was invited by HRInfo and the National Council for Freedoms in Tunisia to show support for the growing number of Egyptian journalists and critics who are being targeted through the courts. Just last week, the head of Egypt's nationalist opposition Wafd party and two party journalists were sentenced to a month in jail after being convicted of libel.

This is the second time Abbou has been denied the right to travel since his release in July, after spending more than two years in jail for exposing torture in Tunisian prisons on the Internet. In August, he was due to travel to London to appear on Al Jazeera for a programme on free expression and human rights.

Abbou has been invited to speak about human rights violations in Tunisia at an event in Washington, D.C. on 13 November being held to protest the 20th anniversary of President Ben Ali's rule. The event is hosted by the IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG), Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, Amnesty International-USA and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). Members of the IFEX TMG and other IFEX members have been lobbying to try to "end the drastic and illegal restriction on Mohamed Abbou's right to travel freely."

To attend the conference, RSVP by 9 November to: [email protected]

Click here for more info:

Visit these links:
- HRinfo:
- IFEX joint action:
- "Al-Wafd" convictions:
- Alert on Issa:
- TMG:
(30 October 2007)

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