Tunisia: Journalist jailed by military court for “harming the army’s reputation”

Tunisian Journalist Salah Attia, founder and editor-in-chief of the online newspaper Al-Ray al-Jadid, was sentenced to three months in jail on August 16 by a military court over remarks he made on TV about President Kais Saîed and the armed forces. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined its affiliate, the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) in calling on the Tunisian authorities to drop all charges against him and has urged the government to stop prosecuting journalists.

Tunisian journalists hold the press card during a protest. Credit: Fethi Belaid / AFP

Salah Attia was arrested by security officers on June 11, following his intervention the day before on Al-Jazeera about an alleged conflict between President Saïed and the Tunisian army. 

"The charges against Attia were ‘harming the dignity and reputation of the national army’", announced Samir Dilou, a member of the journalist’s defence team on Facebook.


Following Attia’s arrest on June 13, the SNJT issued a statement denouncing the policy of double standards adopted by the authorities, which tend to speed up the opening of inquiries against opponents, but never initiate legal proceedings against their allies. In addition, the SNJT objected to the use of military trials against civilians, whether they are journalists or other citizens.

This is the latest episode in a long list of journalists, media workers, and critics that have been persecuted by the authorities since President Saïed seized all executive powers on 25 July 2021. One year later, the President was granted absolute powers with the official endorsement of the draft constitution in a referendum. The IFJ and SNJT have voiced their concerns about the threats to media freedom that the new amendments pose.

IFJ Secretary General Anthony Bellanger said: "We join the SNJT in condemning prosecutions of journalists as civilians before military courts, which is a blatant breach of the rule of law and amounts to sheer intimidation.  We further urge President Saïed to honour his repeated pledges to uphold Tunisia's commitment to respecting fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression and media independence. The authorities in Tunisia must stop targeting the press and release all arrested journalists without delay.”

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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