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Call to free ill Tunisia reporter

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France's foreign minister has urged the Tunisian government to release a detained journalist so that he can receive medical treatment.

In a letter to his Tunisian counterpart, Bernard Kouchner said that the family of journalist Taoufik Ben Brik was worried about his poor health.

A French foreign ministry spokesman said France had raised the issue with other EU countries.

Mr Ben Brik is a well-known critic of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has accused the Tunisian authorities of arresting him on trumped up charges shortly after last month's presidential election because of articles written in the French press.

Mr Ben Brik is accused of assaulting a woman in public. His trial is expected to start on 19 November.

Press freedom campaigners say other journalists have also been assaulted recently.

Slim Boukhir was reportedly kidnapped, blindfolded and beaten before being dumped in a park, just hours after giving an interview to the BBC.

It is claimed that the four men responsible for that attack were police in civilian clothes.

These allegations have been denied by Tunisia's ruling party.



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