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Journalist Slim Boukhdhir faces new harassment, intimidation by authorities

(OLPEC/IFEX) - The following is a 25 December 2008 OLPEC press release:

Boukhdhir's freedom and personal safety threatened

The Observatory for the Freedom of Press, Publishing and Creation (OLPEC) expresses its deep concern as Tunisian authorities continue to harass journalist Slim Boukhdhir and threaten his personal safety.
A few days ago, authorities openly threatened to send Boukhdhir back to jail and told him that he was being closely watched. At the same time, he was contacted by a "mediator" who offered him material benefits if he agreed to renounce his editorial line.

Authorities also warned Boukhdhir that he could face charges of "receiving funds from foreign agencies" if he accepted the Journalists in Distress Fund aid made available by an international journalists' organization. Boukhdhir told OLPEC that the person who contacted him to deliver him the warning called him the day after he received notice from the fund and knew the exact amount of the award that was expected to arrive in the mail, which offers proof that phone calls are monitored by the Tunisian authorities.

The incident also coincides with the signing of a contract between Boukhdhir and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) to be their Tunisia correspondent and report on the freedom of press situation in Tunisia.

Boukhdhir was released from prison in July 2008 after serving an eight-month sentence on trumped up charges. On 20 September he was kidnapped again by security agents in Sfax and threatened with physical assault. Boukhdhir has also had his passport taken away.

The Observatory for the Freedom of Press, Publishing and Creation (OLPEC):

- will hold the Tunisian authorities personally responsible should Boukhdhir be assaulted or face bogus charges;
- denounces the shameful behaviour of Tunisian authorities in attempting to intimidate and blackmail Boukhdhir;
- condemns the involvement of the Tunisian regime in the illegal surveillance of independent journalists and activists and in the violation of their privacy.

Neziha Rjiba
Vice-President, OLPEC

For further information on the Boukhdir case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/97183

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