Tunisian Journalist Resumes Hunger Strike
Tunisian journalist Taoufik Ben Brick confirmed Thursday that he had resumed his hunger strike in protest over the confiscation of his passport, after ending a 24-day strike Wednesday.
Ben Brick announced his intentions in a statement entitled "Until my death", said AFP.
Ben Brick, who lives in Tunisia and is a correspondent for the news agencies Infosud and Syfia and the French daily La Croix.
RsF said his wife had telephoned the organization about the decision, according to Reuters.
"I am going to my death," she quoted him as saying. "I drank two cups of tea and I cried," she added.
The journalist, who is said to be seriously ill, suspended his hunger strike Wednesday at the request of Marie-Claire Mendes-France, widow of the late French prime minister Pierre Mendes-France, who went to Tunis to plead with Ben Brick to end his protest.
Ben Brick says he has been prohibited from writing about Tunisia and that his freedom of movement and communication are restricted.
The journalist is also protesting the alleged persecution of his family.
He said he had agreed to suspend his hunger strike in the hope his brother Jalal and several friends detained in Tunisia would be freed, but Jalal was still being held.
One friend has been freed, RsF said. Tunisian police barred five French journalists -- including RsF Secretary-General Robert Menard -- from visiting Ben Brick on Wednesday.
"Jalal is behind bars," Ben Brick said. "He has not even been able to see his lawyer. So I am continuing my hunger strike without water, without sugar and without medicines."
Official sources at French President Jacques Chirac's office have said Chirac was being kept informed about the issue.
The president declined to answer a reporter's question about the journalist at a short news conference on Wednesday evening with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
The sources said an aide of Chirac would receive his sister Najet Ben Brick, at her request, on Thursday. France has said it is prepared to give asylum to Ben Brick.
Tunisian authorities have not commented on Ben Brick's protest, but the ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally party has said his passport was confiscated because of judicial proceedings against him.
A judge who is questioning the journalist about two articles he wrote about civil liberties in Tunisia has barred him from leaving the country – (Agencies)
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