Responding to the harassment and interrogation of Sami Ben Gharbia, founder and director of the independent Tunisian news website, Nawaat, who was questioned for six hours earlier this week in relation to an article that leaked details of a controversial government bill, Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International said:
“Subjecting an independent journalist to lengthy interrogation and harassment in connection with their work is a flagrant assault on press freedom. This incident sends a worrying signal that the Tunisian authorities are willing to clamp down on the right to freedom of expression and suggests that journalists who are critical of the authorities could be punished for carrying out their legitimate work.
This incident sends a worrying signal that the Tunisian authorities are willing to clamp down on the right to freedom of expressionNajia Bounaim, Campaigns Director for North Africa at Amnesty International
“Instead of bullying journalists into revealing their sources and subjecting them to lengthy interrogations, the Tunisian government must ensure that all journalists in the country are able to carry out their work free from intimidation, harassment and threat of arrest.”
The journalist was called for questioning on 3 May in relation to an article published by Nawaat on 21 April which leaked details of a presidential plan to pass an amended version of Tunisia’s controversial economic reconciliation law. The law proposed by the president has stirred up controversy among politicians, anti-corruption activists and civil society for offering immunity from further prosecution to officials and business executives accused of corruption and embezzlement under the former government if they return the stolen assets.