IFJ Calls for Immediate Release of Ailing Tunisian Journalist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today expressed its

grave concern over the well-being of Tunisian journalist Fahem Boukaddous and

urged his immediate release. Boukaddous, whose health has sharply deteriorated

in prison, is serving a four year jail term following his conviction in March

for "forming a criminal association liable to attack persons".

"We are very concerned about Boukaddous who needs urgent medical

treatment unavailable to him in prison," said Aidan White, IFJ General

Secretary. "Boukaddous has already been denied his freedom as punishment for

his independent journalism. Without immediate action his long term health is

under threat."

According to family sources, Boukaddous, correspondent for the satellite

channel ‘Tunisian Dialogue' has difficulties breathing and speaking and his

asthma attacks have increased. The family has also complained of police harassment

who monitor their movements and keep an intimidating watch near the family home

and commercial premises.

The journalist was sentenced to four years in January and his conviction

was upheld by a Court of Appeal in July. He was prosecuted following his

reporting of public demonstrations against unemployment and corruption in the

mining town of Gafsa in 2008.

In a show of solidarity, leaders of the syndicat national des

journalistes tunisiens (SNJT), an IFJ affiliate, organised a demonstration

outside the Gafsa prison where Boukaddous is detained on 18 September but the

police stopped the gathering and turned away demonstrators.

The IFJ is also calling on the European Parliament to help secure the

release of Boukaddous. The Parliament held a hearing on the situation of human

rights in Tunisia during its January session in Strasbourg.

"We look to European Union institutions to leverage their pressure to

save the journalist's life," added White. "But they need to act fast as his

life is in danger." 

According to the IFJ, the authorities continue to use the courts as a

means of repression against journalists as the case of journalist Mouldi Zouabi

demonstrated this week. The journalist of Radio Kalima is a defendant in a case despite being the victim of an assault by a man who attacked

him in April. Police decided not to charge the aggressor, claiming insufficient

evidence. Instead, they are accusing Zouabi of violent behavior and actual

bodily harm. The case was sent to a higher court on 6 October, exposing the

journalist to up to two years in jail. His lawyers have resigned to protest

multiple breaches of due process.

For more information,

please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than

600.000 journalists in 125 countries