Tunisia: Arrest of Mosaïque FM’s General Manager
In Tunisia, the general manager of Mosaïque FM radio, Noureddine Boutar, was arrested on February 13, 2023. The investigating judge at the economic and financial judicial center issued a warrant of committal against him late in the evening of Monday. His lawyers believe that the file is empty and that there is no evidence against their client. They consider that the fact of bringing him before the economic and financial judicial pole is only a “cover used to not show that freedom of speech and freedom of the press is directly targeted”.
Ayoub Ghedamsi, lawyer and member of the Tunisian League for Human Rights, deplores this decision: “The opening of an investigation against Noureddine Boutar is based on a security report containing false data that could be described as misleading and not accompanied by evidence. This report claims that Boutar uses the income of Mosaïque FM in order to influence its editorial line to “offend against the highest authority of the state” and to “conspire against state security”. Accusations that are completely unfounded”.
Ghedamsi considers this to be an attack on freedom of the press, which constitutes a real threat to any media that could criticize the political situation in the country. He believes that Mosaïque FM is paying the tribute of its editorial line and its free and critical positions for ten years vis-à-vis power, whatever it may be. His pre-trial detention could last fourteen months, the maximum duration that the investigations could take.
This arrest is a clear targeting of an editorial line that has chosen neutrality and the principle of non-alignment with authority, while making positive criticism. It is a worrying sign for freedom of the press in Tunisia, and a reminder of the importance of protecting it.