Tunisia arrests more of President Saied critics

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A leader of Tunisian Ennahdha party and the director of a private radio station were arrested Monday night, according to the political group and the media.

The arrests come as part of a crackdown launched this weekend by the Tunisian security services in which political activists, former judges, and an influential businessman were arrested.

The leader of Ennahdha, Noureddine Bhiri, 64, was arrested and “taken to an unknown location” during a police raid involving a hundred agents at his home in Tunis, said a spokesman for Ennahdha, Abdelfattah Taghouti.

This former Minister of Justice had already been detained for more than two months in early 2022, 5 months after the coup de force of President Kais Saied who had suspended the parliament controlled by Ennahdha, his bête noire, and has since sought to marginalize him.

He had stopped eating as soon as he was arrested and stopped taking his medication before agreeing to be infused in a hospital where he had been transferred in custody.

Despite his release, Mr Bhiri was still under investigation for suspicion of “terrorism”, according to the authorities.

Police also arrested Noureddine Boutar, director general of the private radio station Mosaïque FM, which is widely heard in Tunisia, the media reported.

On Saturday, the Tunisian police arrested the businessman Kamel Eltaïef, very influential in political circles and for a long time the eminence grilse of the deposed president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, as well as two opponents, Abdelhamid Jelassi, former leader of Ennahdha and a political activist, Khayam Turki, as well as two former judges.

A man of the shadows, Mr Eltaïef, 68, is seen by many Tunisians as one of the symbols of corruption since the years of Ben Ali.

A lobbyist with strong diplomatic connections, Mr. Eltaïef has made and broken careers in the police and in politics.

According to local media, those arrested this weekend are suspected of “plotting against state security”.

Since President Saied’s coup, several politicians have been prosecuted, which the opposition has denounced as settling scores.

The opposition accuses Mr Saied of establishing an authoritarian regime that represses freedoms and threatens democracy in Tunisia, where the first Arab Spring revolt toppled the Ben Ali dictatorship in 2011.

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