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Tunisian police crack on TV station in free speech row

Tunisian police stormed the offices of a private television station and cut it off the air on Thursday over accusations it had breached broadcasting rules, which the channel called an attempt to silence its voice criticizing the government.

Dozens of members of the security forces stormed the headquarters of Nesna television, switched off its transmissions and seized equipment, journalists at the station told Reuters.

The move followed a ruling by broadcasting regulator HAICA, which revoked the channel’s license last year.

The HAICA had fined the channel for broadcasts the body described as exploiting poor people and promoting the political agenda of the channel’s owner, businessman Nabil Karoui.

The channel rejected the fines and said it did not recognize the rulings by the body, which it said were motivated in response to the broadcaster’s criticism of the government. The government has denied any responsibility for rulings by the HAICA.

Officials at Nesma were not immediately available to comment on Thursday’s raid. The channel’s website said it was being punished for its criticism of the government and coverage of anti-government protests.

Source: Reuters

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