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Tunisia detains journalist for refusing to reveal his sources

March 24, 2022 at 8:42 am

Tunisian journalist Khalifa Guesmi [Khalifa Guesmi/Facebook]

Tunisian authorities have detained a local radio reporter for refusing to reveal his sources, the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) said yesterday.

The body said anti-terrorism police arrested Khalifa Guesmi, a journalist working at Mosaique FM in the central region of Kairouan on Friday under anti-terrorism laws after he wrote an article for the starion’s website on the break-up of a “terrorist cell”.

The article, which was later taken down at the request of authorities, reported that a former soldier and a university professor had been members of the cell.

The syndicate said an anti-terror judge also summoned two other Mosaique FM journalists including Editor-in-Chief Houcine Dabbabi for questioning in the same case.

The head of SNJT, Mahdi Jlassi, said in a press conference on Wednesday that Guesmi’s arrest is “an attack on press freedom… and journalists’ right to access information”.

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Jlassi described the arrest as the “gravest attack” on freedom of the press since the 2011 revolution and especially since last July when President Kais Saied suspended parliament and seized an array of powers”.

“It reflects a policy of using state institutions to silence and intimidate journalists. It is an attack on journalists’ right to protect their sources, which is guaranteed under Tunisian law,” he added.

Earlier on Tuesday, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said that Tunisia should “immediately release” Guesmi.

“President Saied has a duty to defend freedom of the press and ensure the security of our colleagues as they do their work,” said IFJ President Anthony Bellanger.

“We cannot tolerate journalists continually being targeted.”