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Tunisia: online writer freed and website editor to appear in court

On Tuesday, 24 July 2007, the Tunisian government has released the human rights lawyer and online writer Mohammed Abbou who had been jailed for nearly 28 months. Mr Abbou was arrested in March 2005 and sentenced to prison for three-and-a-half years for writing online articles criticizing the Tunisian penitentiary system and comparing his country’s political prisoners with those held in Abu Ghraib. “My release is the result of actions of resistance to oppression undertaken by Tunisians capable of saying no to a regime in violation of basic human rights,” said Abbou in an interview with Al Jazeera.

But in the main time, the editor of the online news website Kalima (censured in Tunisia) Omar Mestiri is facing a libel suit based on an online article he wrote last year accusing a pro-government lawyer of fraud. The suit could result in a three-year prison sentence. “The charges are invalid because the article in question cannot be read online inside Tunisia as the website is censored by the authorities,” Reporters Without Borders said.

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