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Journalism can be tough in Tunisia

Tunis - At least 130 attacks on press freedom have taken place in Tunisia this year, media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Thursday.

“Some 130 attacks on the freedom of the press have been identified since January 1, 2012. Among them, 84 cases of direct physical attacks on journalists,” RSF's Tunisia director Olivia Grey told reporters.

“There are on average three attacks on journalists per week,” she added.

Since the uprising that ousted former dictator Zine El Abidine Ali in January 2011, journalists have been targeted by police and protesters, notably radical Islamists, who often accuse them of “sowing sedition” through their news coverage.

The Tunisian authorities have said they want to purge the media of accomplices of the fallen regime, who are to be put on a black list, alongside journalists implicated in corruption cases dating back to the Ben Ali era.

“If journalists are guilty of acts of corruption, it's perfectly right that they should be sentenced. But an independent judiciary should carry out that work, relying on the facts, and not by publishing black lists,” RSF director Christophe Deloire said.

“It's an exercise in exerting pressure for the purpose of intimidating journalists,” he added.

As well as intimidation, some journalists complain that the Islamist-led government is seeking to control the editorial content of several public media groups, including by appointing new directors without consulting their staff. - Sapa-AFP

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