Swiss delegates hounded by Tunisian media

The most extraordinary thing has been happening for the past two hours. The Tunisian media has been hounding the Swiss minister for communications, Moritz Leuenberger, in what is becoming a massive spat between the two countries' governments as well as media.

It all started at the opening ceremony when the Swiss prime minister made some extremely pointed remarks about freedom on the press and lack of human rights in Tunisia.

The Tunisians took it upon themselves to edit this part of the speech when it was shown outside of the UN-designated area of the Kram conference centre. The Swiss response was go on the record about the matter.

And from that point the Swiss delegation has been hounded by Tunisian journalists. Things got really heated when the Swiss held a press conference in the restricted media centre. The editor of the Tunisian national newspaper – a mouthpiece for the government – as well as another three Tunisian journalists took over the conference demanding to know about Swiss banking laws, accusing the Swiss of lecturing other nations, setting hypocritical standards and so on.

One Tunisian journalist, who claimed to be a CNN stringer, insisted on the minister explaining why two Arabs had been arrested in Genenva for allegedly looking at fundamental Islamic websites – the minister hadn't heard of the story, and nor had anyone else in the room.

To make matters once, the main Swiss news site covering the conference – Swissinfo – has been added to the official Tunisian blocking list and cannot be picked up in Tunisian outside the Kram centre where an unfiltered pipe to the Internet has been written into the host country agreement with the United Nations.

Things got even more heated when Mr Leuenberger then tried to enter the main press area to do an interview. He was chased by a Tunisian camera crew, and a series of Tunisian reporters. At one point he actually started running.

What followed was an impromtu press conference with Mr Leuenberger pressed against a raised stage answering dozens of questions alternatively in French, German and English.

As things stand now, the Swissinfo news team are huddled in a group writing another story on the furore and the Tunisian journalists presumably continuing the chase the Swiss delegates around the conference centre.

Great stuff.

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