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COURT UPHOLDS JOURNALIST'S ONE-YEAR JAIL SENTENCE

The IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have condemned the "politically-motivated" ruling of a Tunisian appeals court that upholds a one-year jail sentence against a journalist who had written articles critical of the President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his family.

An appeals court in Sfax, Tunisia's second-largest city, confirmed a lower court's decision on 4 December 2007 to jail Slim Boukhdhir, a blogger and contributor to the London-based "Al Quds al-Arabi", allegedly for "assaulting a government employee in the exercise of his duty" and "breaching public decency".

The ruling is widely seen by independent journalists and rights activists in Tunisia as retaliation for Boukhdhir's writing.

"It's obvious that the court has been instructed to issue such a vindictive and politically motivated verdict," said Mohamed Abbou, a prominent human rights lawyer who spent more than two years in jail for criticising Ben Ali and exposing the use of torture in Tunisian prisons. Abbou observed the trial on behalf of TMG.

Boukhdhir was arrested on 26 November 2007 in Sfax, while on his way to Tunis for a scheduled meeting with a police officer handling his passport application.

Visit these links:
- IFEX TMG website: http://campaigns.ifex.org/tmg/index.html
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/25slvs
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=25123
- IFEX Communiqué, "Journalist given one-year sentence in unfair trial": http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/88581/
(22 January 2008)

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