Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Saturday, 30 January 2010

Tunisian journalist Taoufik Ben Brik loses appeal

Taoufik Ben Brik pictured in 2000
Officials have denied fabricating the case against Taoufik Ben Brik

A Tunisian journalist critical of the country's leader has lost his appeal against a controversial six-month prison sentence, his lawyer said.

Taoufik Ben Brik was convicted in November of assaulting a woman in public, but rights activists say the charges were fabricated to silence him.

Amnesty International has described Mr Ben Brik as a "prisoner of conscience" and condemned his sentence.

Tunisia has been ruled for 23 years by President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Officials deny fabricating the case against the journalist.

Mr Ben Brik is said by his family to be in poor health.

He has been in custody since October. He was convicted of knocking a woman to the floor, punching and kicking her, swearing at her and deliberately damaging her car.

"The judge... has confirmed the six-month sentence on Ben Brik," defence lawyer Radhia Nasraoui told Reuters news agency outside the court in the capital, Tunis.

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