Protesting Tunisian Journalist Barred from Entering Algeria

Published May 11th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A Tunisian journalist who has been on hunger strike for 39 days was refused entry to Algeria on Thursday, media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) said.  

Taoufik Ben Brick started refusing food in Tunisia to protest at the seizure of his passport and flew to France last week after his papers were returned. 

He decided to continue the hunger strike because his brother had been arrested in Tunis, but announced on Wednesday that he planned to end his food protest in Algeria later this week. 

However, RSF said Ben Brick was prevented from boarding a flight bound for Algiers after Algerian authorities announced that the Tunisian reporter would not be welcome in their country. He had been due to Algiers, where he had said he would end his protest. 

Air Algerie employees told the journalist at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport that they had received instructions from Algiers to bar him from the 12:30 p.m. (1030 GMT) flight, said Robert Menard, head of press rights group. The airline gave no reason for the decision, he added.  

Menrad said the journalist would now stay in Paris and continue the hunger strike he began on April 3. 

Authorities there last week dropped charges that he had defamed the country's institutions in articles critical of the government. However, Ben Brick's brother, Jelal, was jailed for three months last week for assaulting police.  

An appeal against the sentence is set to be heard on Monday, an exceptionally early date which Jelal Ben Brick's lawyer see as a sign of appeasement on the part of the courts. 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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