Zouhair Makhlouf was “bruised all over, had a nose injury and a cut under his eye.”

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) “strongly resented” Tunisia’s use of security in raiding the house of opposition journalist Zouhair Makhlouf and assaulting him verbally and physically before dragging him “violently to Nikhailat police station in Ariana, in order to prevent him from meeting the Dean of French Lawyers Union, during his current visit to Tunisia,” the pan-Arabic rights group said.

Makhlouf, a journalist for the AlMowkef opposition newspaper and correspondent with Assabilonline, told ANHRI that he was surprised on April 24 to find a group of Tunisian policemen “breaking into his house to arrest him.”

When he asked for the arrest warrant and reason behind his arrest, “police beat him violently and swore at him in front of his wife and young children,” ANHRI said.

According to the Cairo-based rights group, Makhlouf was “bruised all over, had a nose injury and a cut under his eye.”

He was then escorted by force to Nikhailat police station before being released lateer the same day, after missing an opportunity to meet the French lawyer.

“This attack occurred during the meeting of the Federation of Arab Journalists in Tunis. The Federation completely ignored this incident of ruthless assaulting of Makhlouf, rendering the Federation’s calls to release all press freedom [detainees] in the Arab world dull, insincere and far from the disgraceful reality that made this Federation silent about the attack on journalists and forced the Federation members to applaud and praise journalists’ tormentors, such as [the] Arabic Pinochet of Tunisia,” ANHRI added.

They added that “this unashamed offense committed by [the] security of [the] Arabic Pinochet on the journalist Zouhair Makhlouf in front of his wife and children and such silence of the Federation of Arab Journalists clearly shows the status of the Arabic press.”

It added in further condemnation of the federation that “now journalists are advocates of freedom and the ones to pay the price as well.”

Makhlouf had been released from a previous sentence two months ago, after four months in prison for having published a photo report on the polluted industrial zone of Nabel.

He was detained in October 2009 and released on February 2 this year.

Since his release, Makhlouf has been enduring continued security harassment, ANHRI said.

Bikya Masr

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