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Journalist Taoufik Ben Brik's family threatened and harassed

(OLPEC/IFEX) - The following is a 24 April OLPEC press release:

New wave of police attacks on Ben Brik family

The Observatory for Freedom of the Press, Publishing and Creation (OLPEC) is shocked by a recent wave of attacks targeting the family of writer and journalist Taoufik Ben Brik.

On the morning of 23 April 2008, Ben Brik's wife, Azza Zarrad, had her car vandalised in broad daylight in the very busy Bab Jedid neighbourhood while it was parked in front of a café. Nothing was taken from the vehicle but the windshield, rear window and rear-view mirrors were smashed and the bodywork damaged.

Zarrad filed a complaint accusing the secret police of being behind the action, which she maintains was in retaliation to her earlier rebuff of senior security officials. The police have refused to accept her statement in its current wording.

In fact, family members received a call two days earlier by the senior officials declaring their support for the divorce proceedings launched by Zarrad and their willingness to help make her husband "pay". Zarrad immediately rejected the offer, saying she was not a police collaborator and would not be manipulated in what was an entirely private matter.

Ben Brik also told OLPEC that he had himself received threats from senior police officials about 10 days earlier, telling him that if he didn't "behave" during the upcoming 2009 elections that they would "take care of [his] wife and kids, just as [they] had taken care of [his] brothers." Ben Brik's four brothers have all been prosecuted by police over the past four years. Two of them have been unfairly sentenced to prison without parole.

The Observatory for Freedom of Press, Publishing and Creation in Tunisia:

- roundly condemns the acts of reprisal against Taoufik Ben Brik and his family and expresses its full solidarity with them
- denounces the threats made by security forces against the family
- considers this meddling in the private of lives of the Ben Brik family to be indicative of a general political degeneracy that has begun to pervade the administrative authority as well

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