• World - Africa
  • Updated: May 22, 2023

Journalists Protest In Tunisia Over Press Freedom

Journalists Protest In Tunisia Over Press Freedom

Journalists Protest In Tunisia Over Press Freedom

Dozens of Tunisian journalists have held a demonstration outside the El Gorjani Police Research Department in Tunis in support of two journalists under investigation.

The protesters including one of the summoned journalists Elyes Gharbi, denounced what they called attempts to stifle press freedom in the country.

"We are here because we are being reproached for certain remarks made in the program of May 15, 2023. 

"These comments were, in our opinion, constructive comments. They are critical, of course, but constructive. 

"Today, there is perhaps another reading on the part of the authorities.

"We will explain to the authorities that we are journalists. 

"And as such, we have the right to criticize. As such, we criticize in a constructive spirit and in a spirit where there is freedom of speech, freedom of thought and we will defend that." Elyes Gharbi, the radio presenter said. 

The two journalists were summoned after Khalima Guesmi, another employee of Mosaique FM radio station, had his one-year sentence from a November conviction increased to five years in prison under anti-terrorism regulations.

According to his attorney, Guesmi was found guilty of willfully disclosing "information relating to operations of interception, infiltration, audiovisual surveillance, or data collection."

"There is a frank and clear (political) orientation towards lockdown and repression, which targets disobedient media," said Mahdi Jlassi, president of the journalists' union.

"We are once again raising the alarm against the rollback of freedoms in this country and the legal proceedings targeting journalists, lawyers and trade unionists, and other people for comments, articles, or even a song."

Two Tunisian students were detained on Monday after they shared a parody song on social media criticizing the police and anti-drug measures.

Jlassi stated that over 20 journalists are currently facing legal charges related to their work.

Last Tuesday, several local and international rights organizations and labour unions issued statements warning "against the seriousness of the current authorities' repressive direction" and urging citizens to "mobilize to defend freedoms and human rights."

These organizations have criticized the deterioration of Tunisia's civil liberties since President Kais Saied began a massive power grab on July 25, 2021.

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