Tunisia's military court sentences journalist to 3 months in jail
A military court in Tunis sentenced on Tuesday Tunisian journalist Salah Attia to three months in prison over reporting on a "Presidential-military conflict" in the North African country.
"The charges against Attia were harming the dignity and reputation of the national army, and doing what would weaken the army's spirit of the military regime and obedience to the chiefs," announced Samir Dilou, a member of the defence team for journalist Attia, on his Facebook account.
The charges have also included attributing "illegal matters to a public official without providing proof of this, and insulting others through the public telecommunications network," according to the journalist's defence team.
Dilou indicated that twelve lawyers pleaded to defend Attia during Tuesday's court session.
On 11 June, security officers arrested Attia, founder and editor-in-chief of local independent news website Al-Ray al-Jadid, at a coffee shop in Tunis.
Authorities questioned him about his source for a statement he made in an interview on the Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera about a growing conflict between President Kais Saied and the Tunisian army.
During his guest appearance on the Al-Jazeera broadcast on 10 June, Attia said that President Saied asked the army to close the offices of the general Tunisian Union of Labour, Tunisia's largest labour union. Still, the military refused to do so and informed the union.
The union has denied this claim.
Attia said that the army also refused a request by Saied to place opponent political leaders under house arrest.
On 20 July, Attia launched a hunger strike to protest his prosecution in a military court. According to Attia's daughter and news reports, he ended the strike on 6 August after he fainted and was transferred to the prison's hospital.
Prior to the trial, Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the military investigation against the journalist and called for his immediate release.
"Those charges aim to intimidate journalist Salah Attia, and through him the rest of the Tunisian journalists," said Attia’s lawyer to the media after the trial.
Salah Attia is the latest victim of a series of crackdowns on President Saied's opponents.
He is the second journalist and at least the 12th civilian to be prosecuted by a military court since Saied's power grab last year.
In the aftermath of "Saied's coup", Tunisia closed TV and radio stations critical of the leader and had opponents arrested.
Activists warn of Saied's tightening grip around all executive powers, including judiciary one, after passing a new constitution last month.
The new constitution gives the president unchecked powers and allows him to appoint and sack judges. The controversial text has also banned judges from striking and named the president the head of the armed forces.
Tunisia's state of freedom deteriorated from 73 in 2021 to 94 in 2022, according to Reporters without borders (RSF).