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Critical NGO activists harassed; prosecution of newspaper continues, its editors go on hunger strike

(HRinfo/IFEX) - In light of recent repressive acts against critical activists and newspapers, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, during his visit to Tunisia, which commenced 29 April 2008, must not show any direct or indirect support for the Tunisian government's policies that put extreme pressure on legal activists, journalists and opponents, says HRinfo.

On 29 April 2008, the Public Prosecutor summoned Radia Al Nasrawy, head of the Tunisian Association Against Torture, and Mohamed Al Nuri, head of the Freedom and Justice Organization, without officially explaining the reason for the summons. Officials only told the lawyers for Nasrawy and Nuri that the investigation is related to allegations about their having published false news when reporting on the suppression of student demonstrations in January 2007. The students were demanding an end to the blockage of Gaza City, in the Palestinian territories.

In addition, state-dominated Tunisian newspapers initiated a defamation case against journalist Rashid Khashana, the editorial chairman of the "Al Mawgif" opposition newspaper, and against the newspaper's editorial manager, Mungi El Lawzi, who are going on a hunger strike to protest against the expropriation of their newspaper, and the governmental harassment against it, which is threatening its survival.

HRinfo stated: "The European Union generally, and France in particular, are entirely aware of the Tunisian government's black record when it comes to public freedoms and press freedom. The Tunisian government's claims to be combating terrorism should not be accepted as reason to overlook its ongoing suppression of civil institutions and of journalists, or as cause to praise an oppressive government. The rights of citizens should not sacrificed for the sake of economic interests."

New cases (Nasrawy and Nuri) and update to the "Al-Maoukif" ("Al Mawgif") case:

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