Reporters Without Borders hails yesterday’s release of Fahem Boukadous, a correspondent for the satellite TV station El Hiwar Ettounsi, after 189 days in detention. He had been serving a four-year jail sentence for allegedly participating in protests in the Gafsa mining region, 350 km south of Tunis, in 2008.
Originally imposed in his absence, the sentence was confirmed by a Gafsa appeal court on 6 July and Boukadous was arrested nine days later. He was convicted on a charge of “forming a criminal association liable to attack persons and their property” although all he did was provide his TV station with footage of the protests.
Boukadous is a chronic asthma sufferer whose health suffered a great deal during his six months in jail.
He was released following the 17 January announcement by Mohamed Al-Ghannouchi, the provisional government’s prime minister, that all of Tunisia’s prisoners of conscience are to be freed. Ammar Amroussia, the news website Al-Badil correspondent who was arrested on 29 December, was released from prison on the morning of 17 January.
Reporters Without Borders notes the provisional government’s promises to respect freedom of information and expression and is waiting to see if they are kept.