The Guardian

Tunisia releases Al Jazeera reporter



Tunisian authorities released Al Jazeera reporter Samir Sassi on Friday, two days after he was arrested for undisclosed reasons, his lawyer said.

Sassi, 55, was taken into custody late Wednesday after police searched his home and seized electronic devices, said Lotfi Haji, Al Jazeera's Tunis bureau chief.

There has been no official comment from Tunisian authorities regarding Sassi's arrest.

The journalist's lawyer, Ayachi Hamami, could not say whether Sassi was currently facing criminal charges.

Tunisia has faced criticism for its crackdown on free speech, with more than 30 journalists arrested in 2023, according to the International Federation of Journalists.

Local media in the North African country reported that Sassi was suspected of being a “member of a terrorist organization” and linked him to President Kais Saied's political archrival, the Annahada party.

Another Tunisian journalist, Zied El Heni, was taken into police custody on Monday while awaiting trial after criticizing Tunisia's Minister of Commerce, Khartoum Ben Regeb, on a radio show he hosted. Ta.

Zied Dabar, president of the Tunisian journalists' union SNJT, denounced “pure intimidation” by the authorities and told AFP that the increasing violations of press freedom were “scandalous and worrying”.

Al Jazeera's Tunisian bureau has been closed since President Said swiftly seized power in July 2021, but the network's journalists remained accredited and continued reporting.

Officials did not give a reason for closing the station at the time.

Last year, UN human rights chief Volker Turk said he was “deeply concerned” by Tunisia's crackdown on media, where vaguely worded laws are used to criminalize criticism.

According to local media, 17 journalists are currently on trial in Tunisia. Two of them remain locked up in prison.

Source: guardian.ng

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