Journo held on release from hospital

Posted: July 15, 2010 in Media

Tunis – Tunisian police on Thursday arrested a prominent journalist convicted of threatening public order, presumably to begin a four-year jail sentence which drew US protests last week, his lawyer said.

“Fahem Boukadous was arrested the day after his release from hospital,” in Sousse, 140km south of the capital Tunis, his lawyer Radia Nasraoui said.

Nasraoui said Boukadous had been receiving treatment since July 3 for respiratory problems.

His illness meant he was not in court for a July 6 session in which he was sentenced to four years in jail on charges of reporting information deemed threatening to the public order.

Boukadous, 40, who worked for the satellite channel Al-hiwar Ettounsi, had reported on 2008 protests in Gafsa’s mining basin over unemployment, high living costs and corruption.

The United States said after the sentencing that it was “deeply concerned” over a decline in political freedom in Tunisia.

State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said the US was particularly “troubled” by Boukadous’s sentence.

Tunisia’s parliament on June 15 presented a law roundly condemned by human rights groups that makes it a criminal offence to engage in actions deemed harmful to the country’s interests and economic security.

The judiciary issued a statement defending the prosecution of Boukadous, saying he was part of a “criminal gang” that damaged both public and private buildings.

The statement said that Boukadous was part of a group that installed roadblocks and caused “serious injury” to officers through assaults and throwing Molotov cocktails.

The United States has longstanding political and military relations with Tunisia despite occasional criticism of the rights record of veteran President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. – AFP

Posted via nawaat’s posterous

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