New York, October 3, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned that Tunisian authorities have harassed journalist and human rights activist Néziha Rejiba, also known as Om Zeid.
According to the Tunisian press freedom group Observatoire de la Liberté de la Presse, de L’Edition et de la Création (OLPEC), Rejiba, who is the Arabic editor of Kalima, a banned online French- and Arabic-language journal, was summoned by the Tunisian Customs Bureau for questioning on September 25 following her return from Europe.
While in Europe, Rejiba had agreed to bring 170 euros (US$197) back into Tunisia for a friend of an acquaintance. The agents alleged that she had violated currency exchange laws by bringing the money into the country and told her that she could face up to five years in prison if charged and convicted.
An OLPEC spokesperson said that the currency exchange laws are designed to punish people who funnel large amounts of undeclared foreign currency into Tunisia, not small amounts. The spokesperson maintained that Rejiba was summoned because of her activism and writing in Kalima, which often criticizes the Tunisian government. Kalima is blocked in Tunisia but can be accessed outside the country.
The spokesperson also revealed that Rejiba’s home is under constant surveillance. Her phones lines are monitored, and she can’t receive long distance calls. CPJ and other human rights groups regularly have difficulty contacting independent journalists and human rights activists in Tunisia.