Picard, who freelances for various French-language media including Radio France Internationale, was covering President Essebsi’s first-ever visit to Ettadhamen, a low-income district in western Tunis, when the police stopped him on alleged security grounds and asked him if he working with other reporters, photographers or cameramen,
After questioning him politely at a nearby police station, they asked to sign a statement in Arabic (with no official French translation) before letting him go. The statement said there had been no particular problem and that he had been allowed to leave.
Picard’s interrogation came three days after French newspaper reporter Mathieu Galtier received a visit by police officers at his Tunis home, and it follows criticism by President Essebsi of foreign media coverage of the current wave of protests in Tunisia. “The entire world has hurt us,” the president said. “There has been exaggeration in the foreign media (...) things have been overstated.”
RSF points out that Tunisia’s press law “prohibits restrictions on the free flow of news and information or restrictions (...) that could endanger the citizen’s right to free, pluralist and transparent information.” It also protects the sources of journalists “in the performance of their duties and the sources of any other persons who help to produce journalistic material.”
RSF invites reporters covering the protests in Tunisia to read its recommendations entitled “For a better dialogue between journalists and police officers.”
Tunisia is ranked 97th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.