Rached Ghannouchi Sentenced to 1 year in prison

Prominent Tunisian opposition figure Rached Ghannouchi has been sentenced to one year in prison on terrorism-related charges, as reported by local media. Ghannouchi, a former parliament speaker, was arrested last month on various accusations that Human Rights Watch (HRW) deemed an attempt to undermine the country’s largest political party.

He faced charges related to terrorism after allegedly referring to police officers as “tyrants” and appeared in court in late February. This is one of several cases brought against Ghannouchi by authorities. His Ennahdha party, inspired by Islamism, was the largest party in parliament until its dissolution by President Saied in July 2021.

Since February, over 20 political opponents of Saied, including former ministers and business figures, have been arrested. These detentions have raised concerns internationally, with the European Union and the United States expressing worry about the escalation and the importance of political pluralism.

Ghannouchi was initially detained in April for remarks implying that suppressing different viewpoints could lead to civil war. Ennahdha rejected allegations of plotting against state security and criticized the ruling as unjust, pointing out the authorities’ failure to address economic and social issues.

HRW’s report highlighted the intensified crackdown on Saied’s opponents since his power grab in 2021, calling for an end to reprisals and the release of individuals detained without credible evidence of crimes.

Tunisia is grappling with debt, inflation, and unemployment, leading some citizens to attempt migration to Europe. The country’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a loan of nearly $2 billion have stalled, raising concerns within the European Union.

Following Ghannouchi’s arrest, the authorities closed the offices of his party.