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Tunisia: Journalist Ziad El Heni chooses not to appeal terrorism charges he faces, CFJ denounces targeting him

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Press release

Geneva – March 13, 2024


Tunisian journalist Ziad al-Heni, a prominent advocate for press freedom and journalists’ rights, has decided not to appeal against terrorism charges he faces. The charges were unexpectedly brought forward during his appearance before the investigative judge at Office No. 12 at the Anti-Terrorism Judicial Pole. Ziad al-Heni expressed his refusal to appeal, citing the “obscene political nature” of the charges.

The journalist, known for defending press freedom, journalists’ rights to protect their sources, and freedom of information, found himself unexpectedly transitioned from a witness to a defendant in the case involving Ennahda movement’s deputy head, Munther Al-Ounissi. Al-Heni, senior editor-in-chief of La Presse Al-Sahafa newspaper, emphasized his commitment to journalism and vowed to maintain his principles despite the legal challenges.

Ziad al-Heni faced three terrorism charges, a stark contrast to his expectation of acquittal based on legal norms and common sense. He insisted on his identity as a journalist, not a terrorist, and refrained from appealing the charges due to their perceived political nature. Al-Heni expressed his readiness to face potential imprisonment while upholding the values of justice and freedom.

The Committee for Justice (CFJ) strongly condemned the ongoing targeting of Ziad El Heni by Tunisian authorities for his legitimate and peaceful journalistic work. Emphasizing that freedom of the press is guaranteed by Tunisian law and international humanitarian laws, CFJ called on authorities to cease arbitrary measures against Al-Heni, urging a conducive environment for journalists and media professionals to carry out their work without fear.

Ziad al-Heni, defiant in the face of adversity, denounced earlier attempts to reclassify him from a witness to a defendant accused of terrorism. CFJ reiterated the call for Tunisian authorities to halt such measures and allow journalists to practice their work in a safe and appropriate atmosphere, emphasizing the fundamental human right of freedom of expression.

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