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<nettime> Zouhair Yahyaoui, Tunisian cyber-dissident
Claire Walsh on Mon, 30 Jun 2003 17:10:46 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Zouhair Yahyaoui, Tunisian cyber-dissident


Here, for Nettimers' interest, is more news about the Tunisian dissident
netzine editor, Zouhair Yahyaoui. It comes from Reporters sans
Frontieres:

Globenet and Reporters Without Borders are honouring a cyber-dissident who
is being prevented from informing us via the Internet. The first
prizewinner is Tunisian cyber-dissident Zouhair Yahyaoui, sentenced to two
years in prison. Yahyaoui's fianc=E9e, Sophie Piekarec, received the 7,600
euro Prize on his behalf at a ceremony in Paris. A young unemployed
university graduate and Internet enthusiast, Yahyaoui launched a news
website from within Tunisia in July 2001. It was the only way to express
oneself in this country of censorship. Using the = pseudonym Ettounsi,
Yahyaoui quickly began drawing lots of young visitors to TUNeZINE. His
recipe was humour and sarcasm. In July 2001, TUNeZINE began reflecting the
concerns of human rights defenders by being the first site to post an open
letter to President Ben Ali from Judge Mokhtar Yahyaoui (Zouhair
Yahyaoui's uncle) criticising the complete lack of judicial independence
in Tunisia. Written mostly in the Tunisian vernacular, the posts of
Yahyaoui and his team upset the authorities. Tunisia's cyber-police, who
are among the most effective in the world, were ordered to track them
down. He was arrested in an Internet caf=E9 in a Tunis suburb on 4 June
2002 by ten plain-clothes policemen, who took him to his home and searched
his room, taking his computer equipment. During interrogation by members
of the Directorate for State Security (DES), an offshoot of the interior
ministry, he revealed the password to his website. He was also tortured.  
After a summary trial, an appeal court sentenced him on 10 July 2002 to
two years in prison for "spreading false news."

Yahyaoui has continued his fight from his prison cell. The only way now
for him to combat the injustice of which he is a victim is hunger strikes.
He has staged three of them since the beginning of 2003. They have left
him weak, but he has not given up.

Also, RSF's second annual report, The Internet under Surveillance -
Obstacles to the free flow of information online, has just been published.
RSF says: 'The internet is the bane of all dictatorial regimes, but even
in democracies, new anti-terrorism laws have tightened government control
of it and undermined the principle of protecting journalistic sources.
This report is about attitudes to the internet by the powerful in 60
countries, between spring 2001 and spring 2003. The preface is by Vinton
G. Cerf, who is often called the "father" of the internet.'

Report available on www.rsf.org


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