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Tunisia detains journalist for commenting on army

Tunisian journalist Saleh Attia [YouTube/Screenshot]
Tunisian journalist Saleh Attia [YouTube/Screenshot]

The military judiciary has detained and opened an investigation against a Tunisian journalist after he made statements to an Arab TV channel about the Tunisian army, according to his attorney Samir Ben Omar.

The military prosecution has opened a judicial investigation against Saleh Attia, a journalist who works for a local daily newspaper, after he made statements on Friday to the Qatari Al-Jazeera channel, Ben Omar disclosed.

The journalist said President Kais Saied "has officially ordered the military forces to intervene against the powerful Tunisian General Labour Union UGTT" and to surround its headquarters before initiating a general strike scheduled on 16 June.

"The (military) establishment rejected this order and informed the UGTT of this information," affirmed Attia, who opposes the measures imposed by Saied on 25 July, most notably suspending parliament and dismissing the prime minister.

In his statements, Attia said that the current situation in Tunisia resembles the "last days" of the regime of former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

READ: Tunisian Union says targeted by authorities after shunning Constitution talks

On account of the statements, the military judiciary decided to detain the journalist after he refused to reveal his sources.

Attorney Ben Omar confirmed that Attia is charged with "harming the army" and "inciting Tunisians to violence" and will be referred on Monday to appear before a military judge authorised to place him in provisional detention.

In its statement issued on Saturday, the UGTT denied what it considered "false statements" by the journalist.

Attia is not the first Tunisian journalist to be prosecuted by the military judiciary. In April, a TV journalist was sentenced to four months in prison for "insulting" the head of state after appearing on a TV programme. He appealed the judgment and was released pending the final decision.

In recent years, local and international non-governmental organisations have denounced the prosecutions against civilians before the military judiciary, noting that their frequency has increased since the Tunisian president seized full powers on 25 July.

These prosecutions also included MPs from the Tunisian parliament, which the president has dissolved.

READ: Tunisia president replaces 13 governors ahead of referendum

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