Fahem Boukadous

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For those who have spent countless hours exposing and combating Tunisia's vast press freedom abuses, today is truly a glorious day. Tunisian authorities released the ailing imprisoned journalist Fahem Boukadous, a day after CPJ called on the transitional government to honor its pledge to free all political prisoners. Today, we can loudly proclaim that no journalist or blogger is imprisoned in the government's dungeons and that Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's censorship is no longer imposed on Tunisians. 

Dolega, center standing, is seen on assignment in 2008. He died from head injuries suffered while covering street protests in Tunis. (Reuters/Charles Platiau)

New York, January 18, 2011--Tunisia's transitional government should immediately release Fahem Boukadous, a television reporter imprisoned last year in reprisal for his work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ also offered condolences to the family and colleagues of French photographer Lucas Mebrouk Dolega, who died of head injuries suffered while covering the civil unrest in the capital, Tunis.

Relying heavily on vague antistate charges, authorities jail 145 journalists worldwide. Eritrea, Burma, and Uzbekistan are also among the worst jailers of the press. A CPJ special report

From Africa to the Americas, more journalists are imprisoned today than at any time since 1996. (AFP)

New York, October 21, 2010--The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned about the health of imprisoned Tunisian journalist Fahem Boukadous. We call upon the Tunisian government to release him immediately.

A barman in a coffeehouse in Tunis switches out the official photo of former Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba, right, to one of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, after a bloodless coup in 1987. (AP/Laurent Rebours)
The escalating attacks on critical journalists in Tunisia are unprecedented since the establishment of the first Arab-language newspaper in the North African country, 150 years ago this July.
A hospitalized Boukadous. (CPJ)

Tunisian police arrested Fahem Boukadous, a widely respected critical journalist, on July 15. Before his arrest, Boukadous wrote an open letter from the hospital, where he was being treated for acute asthma. On the evening he was taken to Gafsa prison, his wife, Afaf Bennacer, wrote an article about what happened that has been circulated on multiple Arabic websites. Below is CPJ's translation:

News from the Committee to Protect Journalists, July 2010

Newly freed political prisoners at a press conference in Madrid. (AP/Emilio Morenatti)

Cuba begins releasing journalists

For weeks, CPJ staff had been getting hints that Cuba, under a deal brokered by the Catholic Church and Spanish government, would release imprisoned journalists and political dissidents. Some families had been told to buy suits for their jailed loved ones, a sure sign that something was up. After years of painstaking reporting, contact-building and campaigning on Cuba, we were in a great position to move quickly when at last on July 13 the Cuban authorities put six journalists on a plane for Madrid. CPJ Europe Consultant Borja Bergareche was there to welcome the new exiles, the first in what is expected to be a series of releases by the Castro regime. Three more journalists have since been freed. Prior to the releases, CPJ research had identified 21 journalists in Cuban prisons for their independent reporting and commentary. All but one of the journalists had been detained in March 2003, in the massive government crackdown on political dissent and independent journalism that came to be known as the Black Spring.

New York, July 15, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Tunisian authorities to immediately release Fahem Boukadous, a correspondent for the satellite television station Al-Hiwar al-Tunisi, and to overturn his four-year prison sentence.

You are all no doubt aware of what I went through this past week. Indeed, though I suffered an acute asthmatic attack that necessitated sending me to the Farhat Hached Teaching Hospital in Sousse from July 3, the Gafsa Court of Appeals insisted on sentencing me to a four-year prison term. It took no notice of the hospitalization certificate presented to it by my lawyer, thus contravening one of the basic principles of a fair trial.

New York, July 6, 2010—An appeals court in Tunisia today upheld a criminal conviction and prison sentence handed down to Fahem Boukadous, a correspondent for the satellite television station Al-Hiwar al-Tunisi, in connection with his coverage of violent labor protests in the Gafsa mining region in 2008. 

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