Tunisia: Ennahda leader Ghannouchi hospitalised shortly after arrest
Tunisian opposition figure Rached Ghannouchi was transferred to a hospital shortly after his arrest, his family confirmed to The New Arab's Arabic-language sister publication, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
On Tuesday afternoon, Rafik Abdel Salam, Ghannouchi's son-in-law and former Tunisian foreign minister, said the leader of the Ennahda movement, who was arrested on Monday evening, was transferred to a hospital in Tunis upon a sudden deterioration of his health.
"He kept silent and refrained from speaking, just as they prohibited him, who is the eighty-year-old, to take a share of rest, and when he wanted to use the bathroom, they stipulated that the door should remain open and he stubbornly refused," Abdel Salam told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
Ghannouchi's family currently has no more information regarding the 81-year-old politician's situation as lawyers were reportedly denied entry to the headquarters of Aouina police station in Tunis where he was interrogated.
On Monday, Ghannouchi, whose party was the largest in parliament before President Saied dissolved the chamber in July 2021, was arrested by police at his home in Tunis.
Shortly after, the police forces raided Ennahda's headquarters in the capital, demanding members of the party leave before they sealed off the building.
"Ghannouchi will remain pending investigations into a case related to inflammatory statements he had made until measures are taken in his regard," a source in the Ministry of the Interior told the Tunisian state news agency.
A day prior to his arrest, Ghannouchi attended a sit-in for the opposition coalition Salvation Front, where he said Tunisia would be threatened with "civil war" if political Islam, from which his party originated, were eradicated there.
Ghannouchi was the speaker of Tunisia's parliament before Saied dissolved it and went on to seize wide-reaching powers through a series of moves opponents have dubbed a "coup".
He also appeared in court at the end of February on terror-related charges after being accused of calling police officers "tyrants".
Ghannouchi had already been in court last November over allegations his party had helped jihadists travel to Iraq and Syria.
Before that, he was interrogated over alleged money laundering in relation to foreign donations for an Ennahda-linked charity.
In an emergency press conference on Monday evening, the Ennahda movement confirmed that it holds the authority responsible for the safety of Ghannouchi, calling for his immediate release.
Since early February, authorities in the North African country have arrested over twenty political opponents and personalities.
They have included politicians, former ministers, businessmen, trade unionists and the owner of Tunisia's most popular radio station, Mosaique FM.
Tunisian President Kais Saied claims those detained were "terrorists" involved in a "conspiracy against state security".
Local and international rights groups have criticised Saied’s witch-hun against his critics, likening the President’s rising authoritarian drive to his predecessor Ben Ali who was ousted in 2011.
"This is an unjust and violent coup authority, and it does not possess the minimum level of political and moral decency, and it is no different from the foreign occupation forces in their tyranny and bullying," Sami Tariki, adviser to the head of the Ennahda movement, told Al-Aaraby Al-Jadeed.