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RSF asks Justice Ministry to improve prison conditions of dissident journalist Slim Boukhdir

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has called on Tunisian justice and human rights minister Beshir Tekkari to improve the prison conditions of jailed journalist Slim Boukhdir and to review his trial and year-long prison sentence.

"His conditions of detention in Sfax prison are not up to international standards," it said. "He shared a dirty cell with two prisoners who constantly harassed him and has since been put in solitary confinement, which is against Tunisian law and could also seriously damage his mental health.

"He has done nothing to justify being put in solitary confinement (under prison regulations), but the authorities may be determined to punish him for what he has written and for his outspokenness. His family is allowed to see him once a week but only briefly (the last time was only for five minutes) and in the presence of the prison governor and several guards who listen to the conversation. The family was not allowed to see him on 24 January 2008, when guards told his wife he did not want to see her, which Boukhdir said later was a lie.

"We also deplore his unfair trial by a court in Sakiet Ezzit," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "The charges against him must be dropped."

Boukhdir, correspondent of the London-based "Al Quds Al Arabi" newspaper and the Al-Arabiya TV station's website, was arrested on 26 November 2007 and sentenced to a year in prison on 4 December 2007 for "insulting a public official," "offensive behaviour" and "refusing to show identity papers." He has also written articles for several websites, including Tunisnews and Kantara.

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