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Human rights activist Tarek Soussi released provisionally

(RSF/IFEX) - On 25 September 2008, an appeal court in Bizerte (60 km north of Tunis) ordered the release of Tarek Soussi, a member of the International Association for the Support of Political Prisoners (AISPP), but he still faces prosecution on charges of "spreading false information liable to disrupt public order" in an interview for the pan-Arab satellite TV station Al-Jazeera.

"Soussi has been reunited with his family after being held abusively for 29 days," Reporters Without Borders said. "His damning comments on one of the Arab world's most popular TV news stations displeased the authorities, who apparently want to make an example out of him for all Tunisian dissidents. Free speech is a still risky business under President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali."

Interviewed as an AISPP representative for Al-Jazeera's news programme about the Northern African countries on 26 August, Soussi described the abusive arrest of seven youths in Bizerte as a "kidnapping." The authorities, who said the youths were "taken into custody in the course of an investigation into an attack on persons and property," responded by arresting Soussi, 48, the next day. The charge brought against him carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

Samir Dilou, one of Soussi's lawyers, described his release to Reporters Without Borders as "a small, hesitant step in the right direction, but the charges against him are still in place and there is nothing to prevent him being sent back to prison." No date has been set for a resumption of his trial.

Updates the Soussi case:

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