International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the abduction of
Omar Mestiri, director of Radio Kalima, a private radio station based in Tunis. Mestiri was
attacked by unidentified assailants in Tunis
around midday, Monday, before being bundled into a car and driven to an unknown
are appalled that a leading voice of independent journalism has been assaulted
and abducted," said Aidan White, IFJ
General Secretary. "The inaction of the authorities over this increasingly violent
campaign against independent journalism is intolerable and suggests strongly
that the government is implicated in the attacks."
to the Syndicat National des Journalistes Tunisiens (SNJT), an IFJ affiliate, Mestiri
was picked up in central Tunis
as he was speaking to a lawyer and has not been seen since.
is the latest in a series of attacks and acts of repression against journalists
in recent weeks. Two weeks ago Slim Boukdhir, a freelance journalist and
correspondent of Al Arabya newspaper in Tunisia,
was similarly assaulted and abducted by unidentified men on 28 October. Boukdhir
was later found dumped near a park stripped of his clothes, having sustained
serious injuries. A few days later his
house was surrounded by security forces who denied access to all visitors for four
prominent journalist, Ben Brick, was arrested on 29 October and is awaiting
trial in a case his lawyer described as an attempt by the authorities to
silence legitimate journalism, after publication in the French press of his
articles critical of President Ben Ali's government.
The concern about a government
hand in these events comes as the journalists' community itself was split during
the summer following the election of a new board of the SNJT amidst accusations
of political interference.
Neji Bghouri, President of
the SNJT's original board had his mobile phone blocked following a number of
interviews he conducted in response to Friday's SNJT press release condemning
the list of attacks on media. Zied El Heni, another SNJT board member was
assaulted in October and has also had his website repeatedly closed by the
The IFJ Executive Committee,
meeting in London
at the weekend, supported calls for a reunifying congress to end the damaging
division in Tunisian journalists.
"The onslaught on media reinforces
the image of an intolerant and repressive regime in Tunisia," added White. "We call on
the Government to protect journalists, to end all forms of media harassment and
to keep its distance from the affairs of journalists."
For more information
contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists
in 123 countries worldwide