RSF condemns storming of Al Jazeera's Tunis office
Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have condemned the storming of Al Jazeera’s bureau in Tunis by security forces, following the suspension of Tunisia's parliament on Sunday.
At least 20 heavily armed police officers in plainclothes stormed Al Jazeera's office on Monday, according to reports by the broadcaster, hours after the Tunisian president suspended parliament and sacked the prime minister.
Staff at the bureau were ordered to turn off their phones and leave the site, unable to return to the building to gather their personal belongings.
"RSF denounces the closure of @AlJazeera’s office in #Tunis by security forces & calls on the authorities to respect #PressFreedom and pluralism," the organisation wrote on Twitter.
In the aftermath of PR #KaïsSaïed's announcements opening a political crisis in #Tunisia RSF denounces the closure of @AlJazeera's office in #Tunis by security forces & calls on the authorities to respect #PressFreedom freedom and pluralism pic.twitter.com/Ie23GSE668— RSF (@RSF_inter) July 26, 2021
Al Jazeera journalists said that security officers did not have warrants for the raid, although officers claimed to be carrying out instructions from the country's judiciary.
"We did not receive any prior notice of the eviction of our office by the security forces,” said Lotfi Hajji, Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in Tunisia.
Hajjaj called the raid "unprecedented" and a "Ben Ali" style crackdown on the press, referring to former dictator Zine El Aledine Ben Ali who was overthrown in a popular revolution in 2011.
Tunisian President Kais Saied decided to suspended parliament and dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi on Sunday, in a move that critics condemn as a "coup d'etat".
Protestors gathered outside the parliamentary building to campaign against the sudden closure of their government.