Reporters Without Borders expressed satisfaction at today's release from prison of Hamma Hammami, leader of the Tunisian Workers' Party (PCOT) and managing editor of the party newspaper El-Badil, officially for "health reasons."
"We are delighted," said Reporters Without Reporters secretary-general Robert Ménard. "It is the result of a months-long campaign by Tunisian and international human rights groups and especially by his Hammami's wife, Radhia Nasraoui."
"We now ask that his release be unconditional. We also ask President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali to make another substantial gesture by freeing cyberdissident Zouhair Yahyaoui, Al-Fajr managing editor Hamadi Jebali and one of the paper's reporters, Abdallah Zouari."
Tunisia's supreme court had on 2 September rejected Hammami's appeal against a prison sentence of three years and two months for subversion.
Hammami had been sentenced on 31 March by a Tunis appeals court. Two associates, Abdeljabar Madouri and Samir Taamallah, were jailed for respectively three years and nine months and one year and nine months. They were accused of belonging to and operating an illegal organisation (the PCOT), distributing leaflets, "putting out false news," holding illegal meetings and inciting rebellion and lawbreaking.
They had initially each been sentenced in absentia in 1999 to nine years and three months in prison. They came out of hiding after four years on 2 February this year when, after a show trial, their sentences were confirmed.