First female political prisoner in Saied's Tunisia, Chaima Issa, is free
Chaima Isaa, the first female political prisoner in Saied's Tunisia, was finally liberated after spending more than five months in jail but expressed concern about fellow activists still behind bars.
Late on Thursday night, 13 July, writer Chaima Issa, a member of the main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, exited Manouba's women's Prison gate under cheers from relatives, supporters and family members of jailed activists.
Sporting a red T-shirt stamped "Free", Issa ran to hug her 21-year-old son Jazza, asking him, "Who was also released?" showed a video widely shared on social media.
Lawyer and former minister Lazhar Akremi was also released in the evening and went to Manouba prison immediately to cheer for Issa's release.
"My happiness is incomplete because the injustice I suffered is still being suffered by my friends who remain imprisoned," Issa told journalists.
"We don't know why we went in or why we left. That's it! Quite simply," Akremi told journalists.
Akremi and Issa were arrested in February among some 20 opposition, media and business figures arrested in February on "conspiracy against state security".
On 24 May, Nouredine Boutar, the head of Tunisia's most popular independent radio station Mosaique FM, was freed as part of the same investigation.
But he is still charged with plotting conspiracy against state security and money laundering.
The defence team for Issa and Akremi said in a statement that the investigating judge rejected the team's request to free other political opponents.
Rights groups have condemned the "witch hunt" aimed at "repressing" freedom of opinion in the North African country since President Saied froze parliament and sacked the government in a dramatic move two years ago.
Saied's critics have labelled the power grab a "coup" against the sole democracy to emerge from the 2011's uprisings in MENA.
Earlier Thursday, around 100 protesters rallied in Tunis to demand freedom for the jailed figures, whom the President has dubbed "terrorists" and "traitors" several times.
Arrests since February include National Salvation Front co-founder Jaouhar Ben Mbarek and Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist-inspired opposition Ennahdha party.
In addition to the political crisis triggered by Saied's power grab, Tunisia has been shaken by a severe financial crisis and is searching for foreign aid.
On Wednesday, European parliamentarians opposed any "unconditional agreement" between the European Union and Tunisia, citing "the excesses" of Saied.
They urged the authorities to "release arbitrarily imprisoned opponents, defend the rights of Tunisian citizens and support their struggle for democracy".