Tunisia court frees TV host held over comments on president

Tunisia court frees TV host held over comments on president
2 min read
25 November, 2021
A TV journalist in Tunisia arrested last month after slamming the president was released on Thursday
A number of journalists have been arrested since Saied's power grab in July [Anadolu Agency/Getty]

A Tunisian military court on Thursday ordered the release of a television journalist arrested last month after strongly criticising President Kais Saied, his lawyer said.

Zitouna TV presenter Amer Ayad had been arrested in October along with MP Abdellatif al-Alaoui, who appeared on his show.

The pair were held on charges of "plotting against state security", Ayad's lawyer Samir Ben Omar said at the time.

In the show, they both criticised the president's September 29 appointment of Najla Bouden as Tunisia's first female prime minister, with Ayad scoffing that she would function only as "servant of the sultan".

Ayad was released on parole Thursday, Ben Omar said.

His trial continues, however, and the next hearing has been scheduled for January 20, the lawyer added.

Alaoui, a MP for the ultraconservative Islamist-nationalist party Al-Karama, had been released a few days after his arrest.

Al-Karama is an ally of Islamist-inspired Ennahdha movement which had the largest number of seats in the parliament that Saied suspended in July.

On July 25, citing an "imminent threat", Saied also sacked the government and put himself in charge of the prosecution.

On September 22, he suspended parts of the constitution and installed rule by decree, in the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings of a decade ago.

Alaoui had branded Saied's measures a "coup" in the show hosted by Ayad.

Zitouna TV is considered close to Ennahdha and its ally Al-Karama.