New York, November 19, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) welcomes the release yesterday of Tunisian Internet journalist Zouhair Yahyaoui, who had been imprisoned since his June 4, 2002, arrest.

Yahyaoui, editor of the online publication, was sentenced to 28 months in prison on June 20, 2002, after a Tunis court convicted him of intentionally publishing false information and using stolen communication lines to post his site. An appeals court reduced the sentence to 24 months in July 2002. published commentary and articles that criticized the Tunisian regime and President Zine El-Abdine Ben Ali.

It is not clear why authorities released Yahyaoui, who had staged several hunger strikes while imprisoned to protest his conditions.

“After spending a year and half in jail, we are relieved that Zouhair Yahyaoui is a free man,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “But he never should have spent a single night in jail, and he should be allowed to resume publication of immediately.”