• en

Tunisian Court Sentences Two Journalists To One Year In Prison

A Tunisian court has sentenced two journalists to one year in prison for publishing false news that harms public security

On Wednesday, a Tunisian court sentenced journalists Mourad Zghidi and Borhan Bsaiss to one year in prison on charges of publishing false news that allegedly harms public security, according to a judicial official. The decision has sparked increasing concerns about a broader crackdown on critical voices in the country.

Zghidi and Bsaiss, both affiliated with IFM radio, were detained earlier this month for political comments made during their radio programs. Their imprisonment brings the total number of journalists incarcerated in Tunisia to six, with dozens more facing judicial prosecution, as reported by the country’s main journalists’ union, the Journalists Syndicate.

Tunisian police arrested ten individuals in May, including journalists, lawyers, and civil society officials, in what Amnesty International described as a severe crackdown targeting activists and journalists. Human Rights Watch has urged Tunisia to uphold free speech and civil liberties.

“The judge decided to imprison them for a year following social media posts and radio comments that harm public security,” said Mohamed Zitouna, spokesperson for the Tunis court.

Lawyers for Zghidi and Bsaiss were not immediately available for comment. During their trial, both journalists defended their actions. Bsaiss stated, “I am a program presenter who presents all issues, and what I did was journalistic work.” Zghidi added, “I did not make a mistake. My work requires analysing the political and economic situation…and I bear my responsibility.”

In response to the sentences, Tunisian journalists gathered near the court on Wednesday to protest the ongoing restrictions against media professionals. “Tunisia has become an open prison for journalists,” said Zied Dabbar, head of the Journalists Syndicate. “Threats and restrictions facing journalists in Tunisia are unprecedented. We will move to escalation,” he added.

Since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, the country had been considered one of the more open media environments in the Arab world. However, politicians, journalists, and unions now warn that press freedom is under significant threat under President Kais Saied, who came to power in 2019 following free elections.

In 2021, Saied dissolved the elected parliament and began ruling by decree, while also assuming control over the judiciary—a move that the opposition has labeled a coup. Saied denies accusations of authoritarianism, asserting that his actions are intended to end years of chaos and corruption.

Melissa Enoch

Follow us on: