Ever since Radio Kalima staffers launched their new station
on January 26, Tunisian plainclothes
police have done everything they can to suppress the newly launched satellite
radio station: besieging
the offices for several days, threatening
a managing editor with a knife, and
finally breaking into the building and confiscating the equipment.
The radio station was launched by the same team in charge of
the online magazine Kalima, which is blocked within the country, and
housed in the same building.
On January 30, after days of surrounding the offices, police
confiscated equipment such as computers,
phones, recorders, and flash discs,
according to the Observatory
of Press, Publishing, and Creative Freedom in Tunisia. In this video
posted on the Internet, plainclothes police block a visitor who wants to enter
A who judge was present when police took over the building
subsequently launched an investigation against Sihem Bensedrine, editor-in-chief of Kalima,
for using a "broadcasting frequency without obtaining a legal license,"
Lotfi Hidouri, a Kalima contributor, told CPJ. The station broadcasts
over the Internet, and via satellite from Italy, whose government has granted
permission to use the frequency. Tunisian laws don't address Internet streaming, both
Bensedrine has lately become the target of a smear campaign
by the pro-government media, which has accused her of "collecting foreign
money"--about 500,000 (US$645,000) annually--under the "banner
of alternative media."
On Tuesday, plainclothes police stopped Zakiya Dhiffawi, a journalist with Radio Kalima, and checked her
purse for a tape recorder while she was leaving a building in downtown Tunis, Hidouri said. Police
warned Dhiffawi to stop working at the station, Hidouri told CPJ.
Since Kalima was launched in 2000 almost every single
staffer has been harassed,
prosecuted, or detained by the
Tunisian police, CPJ has found. But the journalists have never given up. Radio
Kalima is currently broadcasting from a temporary location, Hidouri said. Instead
of recording reports inside Tunisia, staffers now send their transcripts outside the
country, where they are then recorded and streamed over the Internet and
broadcast via satellite, Hidouri