Tunisia: “Attack on press freedom” results in five-year prison sentence for Tunisian journalist
By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria
A Tunisian requests court has sentenced a radio journalist to five years in jail for uncovering data about the country’s security administrations.
Khalifa Guesmi, of the Mosaique FM radio station, had pursued against a one-year term gave over in November before the sentence was expanded under an anti-terrorism law.
Amira Mohamed, VP of the Tunisian columnists’ SNJT association, said: ” This is the heaviest sentence articulated by the Tunisian courts against a columnist. It is a flagrant violation of press freedom and a dangerous authoritarian drift.”
According to Rahal Jallali, Guesmi’s attorney, Guesmi was found guilty of participating in the intentional disclosure of “information relating to operations of interception, infiltration, audiovisual surveillance, or data collection.”
On appeal, a police officer who had been found guilty of providing the journalist with the information received a sentence of ten years in prison instead of the initial three years.
Guesmi was captured and held for seven days in Spring last year, after the Radio Mosaique online help distributed a report on the destroying of a “psychological oppressor cell” and the capture of its individuals.
I Watch and the Tunisian League for Human Rights, among other labor and rights groups, issued a joint statement on Tuesday condemning the sentence as a “masquerade verdict” and a “major setback for the judicial system.”
They cautioned against “the earnestness of the oppressive bearing of the ongoing specialists” and approached activists and common society “to prepare to protect opportunities and basic liberties”.
Since Kais Saied’s massive power grab in July 2021, these groups have criticized the erosion of civic freedom in Tunisia. In its report distributed toward the beginning of May, the columnists’ association cautioned of “serious dangers” to squeeze opportunity in the country.
Rached Ghannouchi, the moderate Islamist leader of Tunisia, was given a one-year prison sentence on Monday by another court for allegedly referring to police officers as tyrants during a fictitious trial, which his party claimed was a sham.