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International press group condemns attack on French journalist in Tunisia

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PARIS, Nov 14 (AFP) - A worldwide journalists' group on Monday condemned an attack that injured a French reporter in Tunis on the eve of a United Nations information technology summit being held in the Tunisian capital.

"Long-held concerns that the safety of journalists covering the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) would not be guaranteed if this UN summit was to take place in Tunisia, are justified by this brutal assault," Johann P. Fritz, director of the Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI), said in a statement.

Late Monday, the Belgian television station RTBF said one of its crews, in Tunis working on a report on freedom of expression in the north African country, was molested.

The crew was "threatened" and the cameraman "was forced out of his car and his camera and cassette were confiscated," the station said in a statement.

On Friday, Christophe Boltanski, 43, a journalist for France's Liberation newspaper who was investigating human rights abuses in Tunisia, was gassed, beaten and stabbed near his hotel, his editors said.

In the months leading up to the WSIS, "advocacy groups around the world have urged Tunisian authorities to respond to international concerns over continued violations of press freedom and freedom of expression and to put an end the persecution and intimidation of journalists and media workers," the IPI statement said.

The IPI is a global network of editors, journalists and media executives in over 112 countries.

France has also called for inquiry into the attack, which also drew protests from a national journalists' union in France and the French organisation for the defence of journalists Reporters sans Frontieres (Reporters without Borders).



COPYRIGHT 2005 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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