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Journalist Slim Boukhdir's health getting steadily worse in Sfax prison

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is very worried about imprisoned journalist Slim Boukhdir's state of health after he staged an eight-day hunger strike in protest against the conditions in which he is being held. Arrested on 26 November 2007, the Al-Arabiya website's ( http://www.alarabiya.net ) correspondent is serving a one-year sentence in Sfax prison (230 km south of Tunis).

"Preventing a prisoner from seeing his family or having a clean cell is a flagrant violation of human rights," the press freedom organisation said. "The injustice of sentencing this journalist to a year in prison is being compounded by his conditions of detention and staging a hunger strike has become his only way of making himself heard."

Boukhdir began his hunger strike in protest against his isolation and unfair treatment on 14 February 2008, after the prison authorities refused to let him see his wife. He called it off at his wife's request after she was finally allowed to see him on 21 February. She told Reporters Without Borders that her husband's health has been deteriorating steadily and that the prison authorities refuse to let him see his personal physician because the prison doctor has not reported any medical problem.

Aged 39, Boukhdir was given the one-year sentence on 4 December 2007 by the Sakiet Ezzit district court on the outskirts of Sfax for "insulting behaviour towards an official in the exercise of his duty," "violating decency" and "refusing to produce identity papers."

He is the correspondent of "Al Quds Al Arabi", a London-based pan-Arab newspaper, and the website of the Al-Arabiya satellite TV station. He also writes for websites such as Tunisnews ( http://www.tunisnews.net ) and Kantara.

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