Zouari, a journalist with the now defunct weekly Al-Fajr of the banned Islamic Al-Nahda Party, was sentenced on October 8 to 13 months in prison on two charges: violating administrative controls enacted after his release from a previous prison sentence and defamation. CPJ views his current jailing as a part of a pattern of harassment against the journalist, who was released from prison in 2002 after spending 11 years behind bars for belonging to the Al-Nahda Party.
On August 17, 2003, authorities detained Zouari in Ben Guerdane, a market town near Zarzis in southern Tunisia, after he met with a group of local and international human rights activists.
In October, a court ruled that Zouari had violated administrative controls barring him from leaving Zarzis, although the charge is widely viewed as a pretext to harass the journalist, according to Tunisian human rights activists.
During the October court proceedings, the court also convicted Zouari of defamation. An employee of a cybercafé sued Zouari for defaming her during an argument in April when she barred Zouari–apparently under pressure from Tunisian officials, according to the journalist’s colleagues–from accessing the Internet.
Previously, on August 28, 1992, a military court sentenced Zouari to 11 years in prison. He was tried along with 279 other individuals accused of belonging to Al-Nahda. International human rights groups monitoring the trial concluded that it fell far below international standards of justice.