New York, January 28, 2009--Plainclothes police surrounded the offices of a newly launched satellite radio station and detained one of its journalists on Tuesday, according to local journalists. Police continued their siege of the station today.
The journalist, Dhafer Otay of Radio Kalima, said he
was held for four hours and then released without charge. Officers prevented
him and his colleagues from entering the
The siege of the offices, which also house two human
rights groups, the Observatory of Press, Publishing, and Creative Freedom and
the National Council for Liberties in
Otay, who has been living and working in the same building, has been ordered by police not to set foot there in the future, Slim Boukhdhir, a freelance journalist released from prison, told CPJ.
"The Tunisian government should lift its siege of
Radio Kalima immediately," said
Mohamed Abbou, a human rights lawyer and writer who spent nearly 28 months in prison for criticizing President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and denouncing the increasing use of torture since he seized power in 1987, told CPJ: "The kidnapping of Otay and the ongoing siege of Kalima by a huge number of plainclothes police and the attempts to silence a rather small satellite radio have no legal basis. This is a new reminder that there is zero tolerance for independent journalism in this country."
In a letter to then President-elect
Obama in early January, CPJ referred to
In a written response to CPJ's highly critical
September 2008 special report on
In October, a public prosecutor issued a court summons to Neziha Rejiba, editor of the online Kalima and one of the country's most critical journalists, for accusing the government of being behind the October vandalism of the magazine's Web site. The issue of the weekly paper Mouatinoun, which carried Rejiba's piece, was seized. The summons could lead to criminal charges in a country where the judiciary is routinely used to settle scores with critical journalists, human rights defenders, and political activists.
In December, Lotfi Hidouri of Kalima, was
arbitrarily detained on the day he was scheduled to travel to