Tunisia opposition figure Chaima Issa gets suspended jail sentence

Tunisia opposition figure Chaima Issa gets suspended jail sentence
Chaima Issa, a leading figure among Tunisia's opposition activists, was sentenced for causing "offence" to President Kais Saied.
2 min read
13 December, 2023
Issa is among the Tunisian opposition activists subject to Saied's brutal crackdown in February this year [Getty/file photo]

A Tunisian military court on Wednesday sentenced opposition figure Chaima Issa to a one-year suspended prison sentence for "offending" President Kais Saied, her lawyers said.

Issa, 43, was found guilty of causing offence to Saied, spreading rumours to harm public security and inciting soldiers to disobey orders, her lawyer Dalila Ben Mbarek said in a Facebook post.

Issa, a member of the National Salvation Front coalition, said after a court hearing Tuesday that Saied's opponents were being treated like "criminals".

"We are not criminals," she said. "We are not plotters. We are not traitors. We are politicians, opponents of the coup of July 25" 2021.

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Saied, who was democratically elected in October 2019, assumed sweeping powers in July 2021 and has since had the constitution revised to substantially weaken parliament.

Issa was arrested in February 2023 as part of a crackdown on Tunisia's opposition. She was released in July with her trial pending.

Samir Dilou, a member of Issa's defence team, condemned her court appearance on Tuesday "under the famous decree 54, which penalises false information".

Amnesty International slammed Issa's sentencing in a statement, which read: "Tunisia’s authorities must quash this outrageous conviction from a military court immediately. [Issa's] case was brought by an increasingly repressive government that will stop at nothing to silence voices of dissent."

“Chaima Issa, much like dozens of other critics who are being judicially harassed or arbitrarily detained for months, is guilty of nothing more than questioning the decisions made by a government that, from the outset, has demonstrated an unwillingness to tolerate any form of dissent," Fida Hammami, Amnesty International’s Tunisia Research and Advocacy Advisor went on to add.


"It's dangerous," he told AFPTV.

"She should have never been prosecuted for expressing her opinions, nor tried by a military court," Salsabil Chellali of Human Rights Watch said on X, formerly Twitter, following Issa's suspended sentence.

Since February, more than 20 Tunisian political opponents, businessmen and others, deemed "terrorists" by Saied, have been jailed over an alleged "plot against internal security".