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Spokesman of New Rights Organization Arrested and Charged in Tunisia

Human Rights Watch today condemned the arrest of Moncef Marzouki, spokesman of the National Council for Liberties in Tunisia (CNLT).

Four plainclothesman seized Dr. Marzouki on a street in downtown Tunis Saturday without identifying themselves or showing a warrant. He was then held for two days in the Ministry of Interior, charged and released pending his next court appearance on July 5.

"The Tunisian government has been harassing the CNLT since it was founded six months ago," said Hanny Megally, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. "Dr. Marzouki's arrest is not only groundless, it was conducted like an abduction."

In a letter sent today to President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Human Rights Watch urged that all charges against Dr. Marzouki and CNLT Secretary General Omar Mestiri be dropped, and that the organization be allowed to function freely.

The letter also welcomed the release since June 4 of four Tunisians who had been unjustly convicted an imprisoned, including a student arrested during a visit home from France and three woman imprisoned after they were caught preparing to leave Tunisia secretly, a course of action they took only after their applications for passports had been arbitrarily refused.

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