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French Version

Press freedom group chief barred from Tunis summit

Tunis on Thursday refused to allow the head of press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) into the country to attend the UN communications and Internet summit, the organization said.

The Paris-based group said its chief Robert Menard was refused entry at Tunis airport.

Menard told colleagues he had arrived in the city at 11:15 a.m. on a scheduled flight from Paris when Tunisian officials boarded the plane to say he could not disembark as he was "not accredited" for the World Summit on the Internet Society (WSIS).

"I'm shocked. I have all my papers to enter the country, a passport and an accreditation number for the WSIS, and they are telling me I can't come in," Menard said.

Tunisian authorities have said Menard is "subject to a legal injunction" under which he can enter the country only with the permission of a magistrate.

Menard said an announcement on the plane's public address system told him to stay in his seat. When other passengers began to disembark, Tunisian officials in plain clothes told him he could not disembark.

Menard's issue had become a "semi-personal" one for Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine bin Ali, RSF official Jean-Francois Julliard said.

Tunis,11 21 2005
The Daily Star
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