LONDON: The Committee to Protect Journalists on Monday condemned the detention of Tunisian journalist Khalifa Guesmi and urged the country’s authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.
“Tunisian authorities should immediately release journalist Khalifa Guesmi and stop pressuring journalists to reveal their sources, especially in light of the law granting journalists the right to protect their sources when reporting on terrorism,” said Justin Shilad, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa senior researcher.
“Authorities must also allow all members of the press to work freely without fear of detention or intimidation.”
Guesmi, a correspondent at local independent radio station and news website Mosaique FM, published an article about the dismantling of a terrorist group in the city of Kairouan.
He was subsequently summoned for questioning at the counterterrorism investigation unit of the Tunisian National Police in Tunis and was ordered to reveal his sources after being questioned for nine hours.
After refusing to reveal his sources, the state prosecutor accused Guesmi of having ties with a terrorist group, and ordered his detention for five days pending investigation.
Guesmi is currently being held at Al-Aouina detention center in Tunis.
Last week, Amira Mohamed, an official from the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists, condemned Guesmi’s arrest saying: “What is happening is a shame, they used the anti-terror law to target the freedom of the press, and this is a very dangerous step.”
The journalists’ syndicate has said freedom is seriously threatened in Tunisia and has warned that members in state media may go on strike because of what it called attempts by the presidency to control state television.