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Tunisia: Covert Censorship of a Newspaper!

Last week the Tunisian government censored the newspaper, El Mawkef . Censored blog  Tunisia Watch writes:

Le rédacteur en chef de l'hebdomadaire “Al Mawkef”, Rachid Khéchana, a accusé vendredi les autorités tunisiennes d'avoir procédé à une “saisie déguisée” du dernier numéro de son journal, organe du parti démocratique progressiste (PDP), une formation de l'opposition légale. Les autorités ont aussitôt démenti cette accusation qu'elles qualifient de “fausses allégations”.

Selon M. Khéchana, des pressions auraient été exercées sur la société privée de distribution pour qu'elle ne livre aux kiosques que deux exemplaires à chacun. Dans un communiqué transmis à l'Associated Press, il considère cette “mesure répressive” comme “une atteinte à la liberté de la presse et une sanction contre tout journal qui s'attache à sa ligne indépendante”.

Les autorités soutiennent cependant que ce journal “parait régulièrement et est distribué à travers le pays sans restrictions aucunes, à l'instar de tous les autres organes de presse”. “Tous les partis de l'opposition en Tunisie exercent leurs activités politiques et médiatiques en toute liberté”, affirme une source gouvernementale. (AP – 14.03.2009)

On Friday  [March 13th], the editor of the weekly news paper Al Makef accused the Tunisian authorities of conducting a  “seizure in disguise” of the latest issue of his newspaper, mouthpiece of the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), part of the legal opposition. The authorities immediately denied the accusation, which they call “false allegations”.

According to Mr. Khechena, pressures have been exerted on the private distribution company so that only two copies were delivered to each newsstand.  In a statement sent to the Associated Press, he considers this “punitive measure” as “an attack on press freedom and a sanction against any newspaper that adheres to an independent stance.”

The authorities, however, argue that this newspaper appears regularly and is distributed throughout the country without any restrictions, like all other media.  “All the opposition parties in Tunisia operate in political and media freedom,” said a government source. (AP -03.14.2009)

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