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Journalist Slim Boukhdir starts a new hunger strike in prison

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned pressure exerted on jailed independent journalist Slim Boukhdir, who began a new hunger strike on 13 December 2007.

Boukhdir, who is serving a one-year prison sentence at Sfax, 231 km south of Tunis, has gone on hunger strike again to protest his prison conditions.

His wife, who has managed to visit him, said that the prison administration is holding him an unlit cell with common prisoners, so as to indirectly monitor him and stop him from resuming his reading.

His lawyer, Muhamed Abbu, said that the judicial authorities had refused him the right to visit his client, in defiance of the law. The journalist has not been released while waiting for his appeal. The committal order applied against him makes it possible for his period in detention to be extended.

"Once again, the Tunisian state is showing its intolerance towards citizens who have the misfortune of criticising its authoritarian nature. The Boukhdir case bears the hallmarks of a score-settling between the government and the free press," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"The speed of the trial and the journalist's prison conditions are all evidence of hounding by the regime to silence its opponents. We call on the international press to campaign for Slim Boukhdir", RSF concluded.

Tunisia is ranked in 145th place out of 169 countries in Reporters Without Borders' 2007 world press freedom index.

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