Nasreddine Ben Saida, the publisher of the Arabic-language daily Attounissia, has been held in custody since the 15th of February on charges that could give up to five years of imprisonment. Ben Saida was arrested together with his Editor and one of the paper’s journalists after orders from the Prosecutor-General.
The Prosecutor’s office sent out the order after Ben Saida and his colleagues published a picture on the front page of Attounissia showing German-Tunisian football player Sami Khedi embracing a naked girl.
Ben Saida is the first media executive to be jailed after the ousting of former President Ben Ali last year, which has raised concern that Tunisia might yet again fall into the pre-revolution mode that almost completely neglected freedom of press.
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“This is a hypocritical reaction because photos of this kind often appear on the cover of foreign magazines sold in Tunisia,” Reporters Without Borders said.
Ben Saida is currently the only one remaining in custody after the others were set free yesterday afternoon. While Tunisia’s National Union of Journalists backed Ben Saida, one of its spokesmen voiced criticism against the photo.
“We are condemning the continued detainment and arrest warrant issued against Ben Saida. The lack of professionalism of Attounissia’s editorial decision-makers does not justify the state taking away an individual’s freedom, rather this problem can be solved within the professional institutions for the journalists,” Zied El Heni said according to Tunisia Live.