IFJ Protests at Six Year Jail Term for Tunisian Journalist in Hiding

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today expressed its dismay at the six year jail sentence for Fahem Boukadous, a reporter for the satellite TV El Hiwar station, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal in Gafsa, Southern Tunisia. Boudadous had been convicted of membership of a criminal group following his coverage of demonstrations held in Gafsa last year.

"This is an appalling miscarriage of justice against a journalist who was only doing his job covering the demonstration," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Our colleague should never have been put on trial in the first place as there has been no evidence to suggest he took part in these demonstrations. The authorities are seeking to silence their critics by cracking down on any coverage of anti-government activity using all means including sham trials."

According to media reports, the Court of Appeal last week confirmed the six year jail term handed to Fahem Boukadous and 37 other people on 11 December 2008 for "forming a criminal association liable to attack persons and their property".

The charges against them followed a demonstration in a mining area in Gafsa which Fahem had covered for TV El Hiwar. He has since been living in hiding and was convicted in absentia.

The IFJ is further concerned about the safety of Ayman Arrezki, a journalist with El Hiwar Al Tounoussi TV who was arrested on Saturday at the headquarters of Attajdid, an opposition party in Tunisia. He had been covering a seminar for his station which broadcasts by satellite from Italy.

The IFJ last week condemned a number of press freedom violations in Tunisia, including the arrest of Dhafer Otay, editor of Karima radio station by the security forces who had also laid siege to the station as well as the seizure of issue no 113 of Attariq Aljadid newspaper.

"There is clearly a government-driven campaign of harassment against journalists and media in Tunisia," added White. "We commend our colleague's determination not to be intimidated and hold the authorities responsible for the safety of our colleagues."

For more information contact the IFJ at             +32 2 235 2207       

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide