26 August 2012

Tunisia: SNJT Criticises Issuance of Detention Order Against Sami Fehri

Photo: La Presse
Protester (file photo).

press release

Tunis — The National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT), Saturday evening, criticized, in a press statement, what it described as "serious intervention of the Government in media affairs, after the issuance of a detention warrant against Sami Fehri, Director General of audiovisual production company "Cactus."

SNJT considers that the "intervention of the Government and the use of courts to pressure the media and deny their freedom undermines the freedom of speech and is contrary to the objectives of the Revolution."

The statement stresses "the need to consider "Cactus" Company under judicial control as a public service submitted to Decree No. 116 of 2011, while calling on the company's journalists not to submit to "pressure" and practice their profession in all responsibility for a relevant national media production."

The Indictment Chamber of the Tunis Court of Appeal had issued, late Friday, according to an official of the Justice Ministry, a detention warrant against Sami Fehri. The Director General of "Cactus" said, Saturday, in a telephone interview with TAP that he is today prosecuted for airing the satirical puppet show "Ellogique Essiyassi" on "Ettounsia TV," launched on March 16, 2012 and which would have, according to him, "upset some Government officials." He said "freedom of expression in Tunisia appears today as a fictitious freedom."

For his part, Adviser of the Interim Prime Minister Responsible for Political Affairs Lotfi Zitoun denied, in statements to the media, "having contacted anyone from Ettounsia channel to put pressure on its managers to stop airing the TV show "Ellogique Essiyassi."

He said he had "criticised, as a citizen and member of Ennahdha Movement, the way symbols of the State were ridiculed."

The Adviser also considered Fehri as "symbol of the former regime involved in corruption and who should pay considerable sums to the treasury of the State," arguing that "choices have to be made between freedom of expression and encouraging criminals' acts."

Sami Fehri is accused, based on accountancy reports, essentially of financial corruption through advertising contracts signed by "Cactus Prod" company and the National Television during the last decade.

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