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Authorities seize two weeklies

(RSF/IFEX) - On 20 January 2006, Tunisian authorities seized all copies of the weeklies "al Maoukif" and "Akhbar al Joumhouria" from newsstands.

"This seizure proves that the repeal of copyright registration - previously used as a means to control the contents of publications - is a sham", said Reporters Without Borders.

"The interior ministry can seize any newspaper at any time, inflicting serious financial damage on the press and once again proving President Ben Ali's determination to gag journalists. We urge the Tunisian authorities to halt this practice", RSF added.

"Al-Maoukif" is published by the opposition Democratic Progressive party and is sold within the country, displaying a surprising outspokenness in a particularly drab media landscape. Its circulation is however limited to less than 5,000.

Party secretary general and publisher, Néjib Chebbi, told Reporters Without Borders that he had not been informed of the seizure by the authorities. He added that the weekly carried no "illegal" or "defamatory" news. He added that he was personally the target of a defamation campaign in the government press.

The weekly "Akhbar al Joumhouria" was seized for carrying an article in the form of an open letter to President Ben Ali, referring to a corruption case relating to the assigning of Ford and Isuzu concessions and implicating people close to the head of state.

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