Three Tunisian Journalists Arrested for Publishing Photo
February 16, 2012
Freedom House is deeply concerned by the arrest on February 15 of three Tunisian journalists working for daily newspaper Attounisia, after publishing a front-page photo portraying ‘near-nudity,’ and calls for their immediate release. Their arrest is a clear violation of international freedom of expression standards. Publisher Nasreddine Ben Said, editor-in-chief Hbib Guizani, and Hedi Hidhri, were accused of ‘violating public morals’; the country’s public prosecutor called for their arrest after seeing the photo, and the justice minister also objected to the photo being published.
Tunisia held democratic elections in October 2011 following the fall from power in January 2011 of autocratic leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Tunisia was considered ‘Not Free’ for many years due to Ben Ali’s oppressive regime, but in 2012, Freedom House classified Tunisia as ‘Partly Free’ in its annual survey of political rights and civil liberties. Wednesday’s arrests are particularly worrying in this context, with concern growing that the newly-installed Islamist government will enforce a strictly-defined ‘code of morality’ in the press.”