The International Federation of Journalists today expressed concern over the arrest and detention for several hours of Lotfi Hajji, the leader of a journalists’ union in Tunisia, in what it described as “continuing pressure” on independent journalism in the country.
“This is not the first time that police have put pressure on this colleague and there is a pattern of intimidation in Tunisia that is not acceptable,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary after Hajji, who is president of the Syndicate of Journalists (Syndicat des journalistes tunisiens), was detained by police for several hours on December 18th.
His arrest followed his refusal to keep an unjustified appointment with police. He was then told to sign an undertaking that he would not work any further with the satellite television channel Al-Jazeera, without an official authorisation. The problem, says Hajji, is that the body demanding the authorisation is the same one that grants permission.
“This is a classic case of a journalist caught in a bureaucratic trap in which he becomes a victim of political pressure,” said White. “It is just not acceptable.”
In 2005 Lotfi Hajji was also harassed while taking part in a hunger strike with other human rights defenders.
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2200
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide