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Tunisia: blogger Fatma Riahi arrested and could face criminal libel charge

Categories: Tunisia, Advocacy, Legal Threats

update 1: November 6th, 2009 – Lawyer Ben Debba said fatma has been transferred to Bouchoucha police station and might be summoned to appear before a public prosecutor.

update 2: November 7th, 2009 – Lawyer Ben Debba said that fatma has been released.

Free_fatima [1]On Monday, November 2nd, 2009, Tunisian blogger and college Theatre professor, Fatma Riahi (34), known online as Arabicca, was summoned to appear before the Criminal Brigade of Gorjani (Tunis), where she was questioned about her online activities.

Fatma was released the same day around 10 pm then summoned again the next day, on Tuesday November 3rd when three Security officers escorted her to her house in Monastir, located at 160 km from the capital (Tunis), to conduct a search for evidence that she may be hiding behind the pen-name of the famous Tunisian cartoonist blogger Blog de Z [2]. They also confiscated her PC. On Wednesday, they escorted her again to her home in search for her passwords and managed to access her facebook account.

Since then, Arabicca has not been released and has been denied to meet her lawyer, Miss Laila Ben Debba, who spoke to her only for few minutes. Arabicca is being detained in Gorjani Police Station and could face criminal libel charge that potentially carries a prison term to up to three years in prison.

Fatma was blogging at Fatma Arabicca [3]. A blog that she deleted three days before the arrest.

A Free Arabicca [1] campaign blog has been launched by fellow Tunisian bloggers in support for Fatma, as well as a facebook page [4].