Tunisian police beat reporter, seize his equipment at protest

Tunisian police beat Hamdi al-Souissi, a reporter for the local radio station Diwan FM, seized Souissi’s recording equipment, detained him, and questioned him for two hours at a precinct in in the country’s eastern city of Sfax, on September 18, 2017, local media reported.

Al-Souissi was covering a sit-in organized by parents to protest against a teacher who they accused of being an “atheist” and a “bad influence” on their children, according to news reports.

Three police officers approached al-Souissi, who identified himself as a journalist on assignment, according to an audio recording from the incident published by the local news site Al-Chorouk. The officers asked the reporter to leave, according to the recording. News reports state that the police then beat the radio reporter with sticks, injuring him on his face and shoulders, and breaking his glasses.

Police arrested al-Souissi, and took him to the Sfax police station where he was questioned for two hours, before being released without charge, according to a statement from his employer and news reports. Police confiscated al-Souissi’s recording equipment, according to the same reports.

The National Press Syndicate said in a statement that police targeted al-Souissi because they were concerned he was attempting to assault the teacher who was the subject of the sit-in while she was entering the school. The journalist denied the claim, according to news reports.

Diwan FM did not immediately respond to CPJ’s email requesting comment. CPJ was unable to determine if al-Souissi had filed a complaint over the incident.

Tunisia’s Interior Ministry did not immediately respond to CPJ’s email requesting comment and CPJ was unable to locate contact information for the Sfax police office.