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Cairo, November 9, 2009

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, ANHRI, strongly condemned the summoning of Fatima Al Rihani , the blogger of Arabica, to the anti-crime squad office on 2/11/2009.

ANHRI denounced the continuing repression in Tunisia and the ongoing threat of prosecution that bloggers and activists there have to face. “The detention of Al Rihani is another violation added to the poor record of the state of Tunisia on human rights” said ANHRI.

Despite her release, Fatma was summoned again on 3/11/2009 escorted by three security agents who searched her residence and searched and seized her computer. Then, she was detained awaiting investigation on charges of libel on the Internet and on allegations that she was the administrator of the blog Deba Tunisie (The Tunisian Debate):

On 6/11/2009, after Fatma’s arrest, the blog Deba Tunisie published cartoons in response to an article in La Presse, a Tunisian French-language newspaper. While, Fatma’s blog, Arabica, was blocked three days prior to her arrest.

Fatma was released on Saturday 7/11/2009, however, she declared that she might be summoned again which would consequently lead to another detention period.

ANHRI denounces this policy of intimidation of the Tunisian authorities which aims to silence any free voice. This is especially the case here as Fatma was deprived of her legal right to consult with her lawyer, Leila Ben Debba. Ben Debba only spoke with her client for few minutes.

ANHRI calls the Tunisian government to stop the prosecution of all activists and opposition. The repressive policies in Tunisia, one of the worst in the Arab world, have resulted in silencing many Tunisia out of fear of prosecution and imprisonment.

Gamal Eid, ANHRI’s executive director, called for a solidarity stand with Fatma in any way possible; through social networks or sending faxes and e-mails to the Tunisian authorities and officials calling them to stop the prosecution of Fatma and to release all prisoners of conscience in Tunisia.