Tunisian journalist Abdullah Zouari, who is being held in Harboub prison on charges of leaving the town of Zarzis without obtaining police permission, should be released immediately, Human Rights Watch has said.
Zouari was released in June 2002 having served 11 years in prison for “membership of an illegal organisation”, after he wrote for Al-Fajr, a now defunct publication linked to the banned Nahdha party.
After his release, the Ministry of the Interior ordered him to stay in Zarzis, but he was arrested on 17 August in a nearby town. Zouari helped an HRW researcher visiting southern Tunisia meet with victims of rights abuses in early August, in defiance of police warnings not to contact foreign media and rights workers. Human Rights Watch believes this also prejudiced the police against him.
“The real reason for Zouari’s arrest is his unflagging determination to fight for his own rights and the rights of others,” said Hanny Megally, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch.
“He must be released from prison and allowed to live and work where he wishes, and to speak without restriction.”
By Catrin Rogers