Tunisian Journalist to Leave Paris for Algeria, End Hunger Strike

Published May 9th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Tunisian journalist Taoufik Ben Brick will head for Algeria Thursday after he finishes his medical tests, and that he will end his fasting on the 40th day, he told Radio Monte Carlo in an interview broadcast Wednesday morning. 

“Algeria was my destination in the first place, but the family pressed me to come to France for medical tests,” he explained adding he finally responded to appeals by his supporters to bring the protest to an end.  

The journalist staged the hunger strike in protest of measures taken by his government that led to confiscation of his passport and the jailing of his brother, Jalal. 

The authorities allowed him to travel, but the brother, who is a journalist also, is still behind the bars. Jalal is himself is on hunger strike protesting his imprisonment on charges of attacking a police officer, said Monte Carlo. 

Until Tuesday, Ben Brick said he would continue his 37-day-old hunger strike although one of his staunchest supporters urged him to call it off, Reuters said Tuesday.  

Robert Menard, head of the press freedom watchdog Reporters without Borders (RsF), was quoted by the agency as saying Ben Brick had won most of the concessions he was seeking from Tunisian authorities and should end his protest.  

“One must be able to end a hunger strike when reaching one's objectives,” Menard told the French daily Liberation.  

“I am not his puppet and he is not my puppeteer,” Ben Brick told Reuters by telephone from his hospital bed in Paris.  

He said he was continuing his protest to win the release of his brother Jalal. 

Ben Brick flew to Paris last week, escorted by Menard, after Tunisian authorities returned his passport and dropped charges that he had defamed the country's institutions in articles critical of the government.  

French authorities, signaling annoyance at Ben Brick's continuing protest, have said they gave him a French visa for humanitarian reasons and to help defuse the dispute, but not for him to continue his protest in France – (Several Sources)  


© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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