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Tunisia: CFJ Rejects Terrorism Accusations Against Journalist Ziad El Hani, Urges an End to Arbitrary Measures

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Press release

Geneva – February 7, 2024


The Committee for Justice (CFJ) has rejected the terrorism accusations leveled against Tunisian journalist and press freedom defender Ziad El Hani.

The controversy unfolded when the first investigative judge at Office 12 of the Anti-Terrorism Judicial Pole in Charfia, Tunisia, summoned Ziad El Hani, linking him to the case of businessman and former Ministry of Youth and Sports advisor Walid Balti. El Hani, the senior editor-in-chief of La Presse Al-Sahafa newspaper, is well-regarded for his staunch defense of journalists’ rights, particularly preserving sources and freedom of information. His involvement in obtaining a file related to the “Tilapia” case as part of his journalistic work prompted the terrorism accusations.

In response to the allegations, El Hani issued a statement denouncing the Public Prosecution representative’s decision to shift his role from a witness to a terrorism defendant. The journalist refused to surrender his phone, asserting his rights under Article 11 of Decree No. 115 on freedom of the press, necessitating a reasoned decision for such disclosure.

El Hani emphasized that the accusations represent an assault on the quasi-public official, as outlined in Article 128 of the Penal Code and further supported by Article 14 of the decree above. He contends that these actions constitute an attack on source confidentiality, undermining the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

The CFJ, in a strong rebuke against the measures taken by Tunisian authorities, asserts that press freedom is the last stronghold of liberty in Tunisia. Violating this freedom, the CFJ argues, is a blatant infringement on the fundamental human right to freedom of expression and must cease immediately.

Expressing solidarity with Ziad El Hani, the CFJ calls for an end to the arbitrary measures taken against him and urges authorities to refrain from using terrorism laws to restrict the work of journalists and human rights defenders in the country. As concerns mount over potential threats to civil action, the CFJ advocates for a commitment to upholding journalistic integrity and preserving an environment conducive to an unrestricted press in Tunisia.

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