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Lawyer Mohamed Abbou harassed, documents seized at Tunis airport

(OLPEC/IFEX) - Tunis, 27 February 2010 - Plainclothes officers at Tunis's Carthage international airport threatened and harassed lawyer Mohamed Abbou shortly after he alighted from a plane from Morocco on 27 February 2010.

The human rights defender and former political prisoner was subjected to a strip search by the officers in a customs area room after they presented him with an authorisation from airport security services. A copy of the Committee to Protect Journalists' (CPJ) annual report was confiscated from him during the search.

After completing customs procedures, Abbou was then subjected to the insults and crude remarks of the officers as they shoved him towards the exit. A large crowd of onlookers witnessed the scene.

Abbou told OLPEC that one of the officers threatened to send him back to prison.

Airport authorities also confiscated several copies of the CPJ report and two books, as well as a copy of the Moroccan newspaper "Al Ayam" from journalist Lotfi Hidouri, who was returning from Morocco with Abbou.

Since his return, Abbou has been placed under police surveillance and closely followed everywhere he goes. Friends and colleagues have also been prevented from entering his home.

OLPEC condemns the harassment of Abbou and all other rights defenders and deplores the abusive and arbitrary confiscation of documents by airport authorities.

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