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Reporter at Kalima Radio arrested and violently assaulted

(OLPEC/IFEX) - The following is a 24 November 2008 OLPEC press release:

Reporter at Kalima Radio arrested and violently assaulted

On 24 November 2008, Faten Hamdi, a reporter at Kalima Radio, was arrested by a group of policemen and violently dragged to El Gorjani Police Station after being physically assaulted in front of Tunis's Preparatory Institute for Art and Humanities Studies.

The Kalima reporter was covering protests organized by students at the institution in response to recent attacks by plain-clothed policemen during demonstrations.

According to eyewitness accounts by students arrested with her and on examination of the injuries to various parts of her body, Hamdi was savagely assaulted by a group of policemen while she was covering the protests.

Hamdi was taken to an isolated room inside the police station where officers continued to beat and insult her. They seized her tape recorder and destroyed it. They also searched her purse and tore up her ID card. The officers then tried get to Hamdi to collaborate, offering her money or a military posting if she agreed to leave Kalima Radio.

The reporter was finally released at 8:00 p.m., after four hours in detention. The other detained students were released at the same time.

Given the seriousness of this incident, which constitutes a flagrant attack on press freedom and the rights of journalists, OLPEC:

- condemns the violent and barbaric actions of the security agencies, in particular the El Gorjani police, which violate the law as well as the physical integrity of a journalist;

- believes this incident to be reflective of a systematic practice by Tunisian authorities against journalists and human rights advocates;

- calls on Tunisian authorities to cease the harassment and attacks on journalists and respect freedom of the press and the media as the world celebrates 60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Sihem Ben Sedrine
Secretary General, OLPEC

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