The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned as “intolerable and vindictive” the sentence handed down to Tunisian journalist Slim Boukhdir on charges stemming from a search by police on the group taxi he was riding in. It is the latest targeted attack on Boukhdir who has been frequently harassed by Tunisian authorities says the IFJ.
“The authorities are using these charges to send a message to Slim and to other independent journalists that their reporting will lead to jail time,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “He was not explicitly charged on a matter stemming from his work but it is hard to believe otherwise. This is the latest incident in an intolerable and vindictive campaign against him.”
Boukhdir was arrested on November 26 in the town of Sfax as he was travelling to Tunis in a collective taxi. He received a sentence totalling one year in jail for verbal attacks on security agents and disorderly conduct and, according to reports, was given a small fine for refusing to show ID when asked.
The IFJ is supporting his appeal of these charges and is calling on the Tunisian government to end its persecution of Boukhdir, a journalist and human rights activist who has been continuously harassed in recent years.
Boukhdir was attacked and beaten by plain clothes police agents on 3rd May, World Press Freedom Day, after reporting on the deaths of seven people in an accident during the Tunisian Star Academy concert. Later in May he was attacked again while leaving the offices of the National Council for Freedom (CNLT). Boukhdir is regularly harassed and recognized his attacker from a group of security agents that often follow him.
Just a few weeks ago he staged a hunger strike after authorities refused to return his passport to him. He gave up the strike after he was told he would get it back.
In recent months Boukhdir has written about corruption, specifically the President's loan of 1.5 million USD to one of his wife's relatives who opened a special school. His articles have been published in US magazine The Nation, Tunisnews and several other papers and web sites.
For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide