Video captured by journalists graphically showed the moment the police raided the building in Tunis, manhandling and assaulting journalists. In response journalists chanted and demanded the police leave the premises. Other videos later showed the director general leaving the building under police protection via a back door.
Journalists have been protesting since the authorities sought to impose Kamel Ben Younes as the new head of the agency – a move which critics said amounted to a political appointment and pointed out that he had backed moves to control the press prior to the 2011 protest movement.
Earlier dozens of journalists had gathered in front of Tunis Afrique Presse (TAP)’s headquarters chanting “TAP is free”. The SNJT has threatened strike action if the appointment is not withdrawn.
In a statement the SNJT said it strongly opposed political appointments at public media organisations.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “Today’s raid is not only a threat to the agency’s journalists but a threat to media freedom in Tunisia. Such political appointments have no place in public service media. We applaud the SNJT and TAP journalists who have stood up to defend their right to independence and citizens rights to quality information”.