Jailed online journalist’s trial resumes tomorrow

first_img Organisation Help by sharing this information November 12, 2019 Find out more RSF_en Tunisia : RSF asks Tunisian president’s office to respect journalists News TunisiaMiddle East – North Africa November 23, 2009 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Jailed online journalist’s trial resumes tomorrow Receive email alerts TunisiaMiddle East – North Africa to go furthercenter_img Follow the news on Tunisia The second hearing in the trial of imprisoned online journalist and human rights activist Zouhaïer Makhlouf is due to take place tomorrow in Grombalia, in the northeastern province of Nabeul. He faces a possible two-year jail sentence on a charge of “causing harm to another person by means of public communication networks” under article 86 of the telecommunications law. Makhlouf was arrested on 20 October after posting a video report on the Internet about environmental, economic and social problems in an industrial area of Nabeul. His conditional release was rejected during the first hearing on 3 November, which lasted just eight minutes. “We call on the authorities to abandon this trial, which makes no sense,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The prosecution case has been completely fabricated, as it was in journalist Taoufik Ben Brik’s trial, the verdict of which is to be issued on 26 November. The charges against Makhlouf are absurd and contradictory.”The police initially charged Makhlouf with pretending to be a journalist and making an unauthorised report in the Nabeul industrial area. In fact, Makhlouf obtained the consent of all the people he filmed and, since he did not film any military area, he did not need an official permit.The authorities held the 3 November hearing behind closed doors and told the police to keep journalists out of the courtroom. Makhlouf tried to raise the real reason for the trial, namely a political desire to silence opposition journalists, but the presiding judge insisted that the case should limit itself to the substance of the charges, namely whether he had permission to film and a complaint filed by one of the interviewees, a local potter called Mourad Ladhib.Although it is clear from the video that Ladhib was interviewed willing, he subsequently filed a complaint claiming that he was filmed without his consent and that the video defamed him. But the court will not view the video as the prosecution has not included in its evidence despite the fact that it is the alleged cause of the “harm” to Ladhib.Reporters Without Borders is surprised by the speed with which this case is being heard as hundreds of others have taken ages to come to trial. “This reinforces the impression that the case is being manipulated politically.”Makhlouf has been contacted and threatened several times by Ladhib and has filed a complaint against him. His lawyers have been having difficulty visiting him in Mornaguia prison since his arrest. The latest instance of this was on 21 November, when one of his lawyers, Najet Labidi, was denied the right of visit under “directives” received by the prison authorities.Makhlouf went on hunger strike the day after his arrest in protest against his detention but fortunately called it off on 10 November. But his health deteriorated during the hunger strike as a result of his diabetes and Mornaguia prison’s refusal to allow him proper medical treatment.His wife also went on hunger strike to draw attention to the fact that the police had surrounded their home.Here is the text of a letter (in French) that Makhlouf has written from prison: http://www.rsf.org/spip.php?page=article&id_article=34836The Tunisian authorities meanwhile blocked access to the website of the Doha-based satellite TV station Al Jazeera on 26 October after it posted a report about arrests of government opponents during the previous day’s presidential and parliamentary elections.On 28 October, three days after the elections, several attempts were made to break into the home of Moudi Zouabi, the correspondent of the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi and the website of the Dubai-based satellite TV station Al Arabiya. November 11, 2020 Find out more News News December 26, 2019 Find out more Forum on Information and Democracy 250 recommendations on how to stop “infodemics” Eleven organizations from civil society create the Forum on Information & Democracy, a structural response to information disorder Newslast_img

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