AUGUST 24, 2005
Posted: August 29, 2005

Lotfi Hajji, Tunisian Journalists Syndicate
Tunisian Journalists Syndicate


Security officials in Tunis interrogated Lotfi Hajji, head of the Tunisian Journalists Syndicate (SJT), for five hours, the journalist told CPJ. A security official told Hajji that the government had decided to bar the SJT from holding its first congress, which was scheduled for September 7 in Tunis. The congress was supposed to elect the group’s first board of directors.

The official also told Hajji that the group could not hold a seminar, planned for the same week, which would have brought together journalists from throughout North Africa.

The SJT was founded in May 2004 by independent Tunisian journalists frustrated by the country’s poor press freedom record and the failure of the country’s existing press associations to speak out against harassment of the media.

Security authorities have summoned Hajji for questioning twice before. The interrogations took place in May after the release of an SJT report about attacks on the press in Tunisia. Hajji said he was warned that the Tunisian authorities do not recognize the SJT.

The harassment came as the Tunisian government was preparing to host the World Summit for the Information Society, a United Nation-sponsored gathering seeking to establish international regulations for the Internet. Thousands of government, business, media, and human rights leaders were due to attend the November summit.