Tunisia.. The release of two political opponents accused of “conspiring” against state security

Late Thursday night, the Tunisian judiciary released the two dissidents accused in what was known as the case “Conspiracy against state security” In Tunisia, Shaima Issa and Lazhar Al-Akrami.

The defense team said in a statement that the investigating judge decided to “release Shaima Issa, and also responded to the defense committee’s request regarding the release of Muhammad Lazhar Al-Akrami.”

On June 23, the Public Prosecutor in Tunisia appealed the decision to release opposition journalist Shaimaa Issa, 43, who has been detained on suspicion of “conspiring against state security” since February 22. Shaimaa Issa is one of the leaders of the National Salvation Front, which is the most prominent coalition opposing President Qais Saied, who has monopolized power since July 25, 2021.

The former minister and lawyer, Lazhar al-Akrami, 64, was arrested on the same date as part of a wide campaign that included about twenty opponents, who were accused of “conspiring against the internal and external security of the state.”

The Tunisian president described the detainees as “terrorists”.

Issa and Al-Akrami left the prison late Thursday-Friday, and Al-Akrami said in statements to the press, “We do not know why we entered the prison or the reason for our release.” While Issa confirmed, “My happiness is incomplete, and the rest of the detainees are still in prison.”

Some of the detainees were questioned about meetings and telephone correspondence with foreign diplomats, and others about interviews with the media, according to their lawyers.

Local and international NGOs denounced the arrests, denouncing the political will to “suppress free voices”.

Dozens of demonstrators demanded, Thursday, in Tunisia, the release of detainees opposed to the policies of President Kais Saied, and denounced what they described as “disciplining instructions,” according to an AFP correspondent.

The demonstrators gathered in front of the headquarters of the Court of Appeal in the Tunisian capital, following a call to protest launched by the families of the detainees.

“The vigil comes in response to the appeal of the families of political detainees to demand the release of all detainees,” said the official spokesman for the Ennahda movement, Imad al-Khamiri, the largest opposition party.

Al-Khamiri, who is also a member of the “National Salvation Front” coalition, added, “The arrests were to distract public opinion from the real issues in which the country is mired, which are necessarily economic, social and financial issues, and they are an expression of the suffocating political and constitutional crisis.”

While Abdel Aziz, the son of the arrested dissident, Issam Chebbi, considered that “my father is paying the cost of his love for Tunisia.” “The judiciary does not work independently and works under pressure,” he added.

In addition to the political crisis that began in Tunisia in 2021, the heavily indebted country is going through a serious financial crisis and is looking for external financing.

On Wednesday, European deputies expressed, in media statements, their opposition to any “unconditional agreement” between the European Union and Tunisia due to the “excesses” committed by President Saied.

They called on the Tunisian authorities to “release arbitrarily imprisoned dissidents, defend the rights of Tunisian citizens and support their struggle for democracy.”

Among the prominent political figures arrested is the head of the Ennahda Movement, Rashid Ghannouchi.

On May 24, the Tunisian judiciary released the director of the widely circulated private Tunisian radio station “Mosaique FM”, Noureddine Boutar, who was arrested in connection with the same case.

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