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SOME RESTRICTIONS ON JOURNALISTS EASED; ONLINE CONTENT CENSORED

After twice being barred from leaving Tunisia, journalist and human rights advocate Sihem Bensedrine was allowed to fly to Vienna on 2 September. IFEX's Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG) reported that international support was likely a factor in the Tunisian government's decision to let her leave.

In other good news, authorities returned the identification card of freelance journalist Slim Boukhdhir, which police confiscated upon his arrest last November. But he has been denied a passport since 2003 despite repeated requests, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports.

Meanwhile, the social networking website Facebook has been made accessible again, after having been blocked since 24 August. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says bloggers had turned to Facebook after their own sites were censored. Two other video-sharing sites, YouTube and Dailymotion, are already blocked. "The authorities want to control online sharing so that dissidents cannot express themselves," says RSF.

RSF says Tunisia represses online free expression more than any other Maghreb country. Email messages are also being filtered, and TOR, a programme that lets users remain anonymous on the Internet, cannot be downloaded in Tunisia.

Visit these links:
- "IFEX Communiqué" on Bensedrine (27 August): http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/96492
- CPJ on Boukhdhir: http://tinyurl.com/554h5q
- RSF on Internet censorship: http://tinyurl.com/5ucue3
- TMG: http://campaigns.ifex.org/tmg/
(3 September 2008)

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