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Tunisian Activist Harrassed


According to news reports, Neila Charchour Hachicha, founder of Tunisia's opposition Liberal Mediterranean Party, is being harassed for expressing her political views and supporting freedom of speech. She told a reporter, "We can resolve our problems through local television and the newspaper. But we need Tunisians to know about it. We need freedom of speech in our country."

The harassment includes the seizure of Mrs. Hachicha's car, interrogation by Tunisian authorities, the loss of Internet access, and having police outside her home monitoring who visits. Also, Mrs. Hachicha's husband was sentenced to ten months in jail after suddenly being found guilty of fraud in the prosecution of a law rarely applied in Tunisia and which usually results only in a fine. In addition, doctored photographs of her daughter were apparently released to the media by the country's intelligence service or a government-inspired group.

State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says the U.S. is concerned "about the situation of political activist Neila Charchour Hachicha and her family":

"She recently delivered remarks on Al Jazeera and at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington on freedom of the press and the need for democratic reform in Tunisia. Her family has been, we believe, unfairly targeted."

State Department spokesman Ereli says Mrs. Hachicha is not the only Tunisian facing government sanctioned harassment:

"This comes in addition to the ongoing imprisonment of the activist lawyer Mohamed Abbou and continued disruptions of civil society organizations, interference in civil society activities, and recent moves to limit the ability of legal opposition parties to express their views."

The United States, says Mr. Ereli, "encourage[s] the government of Tunisia to take actions consistent with its declared intentions to engage in democratic reform."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.

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