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Judge orders preventive detention for Tunisian Islamist leader

A Tunisian investigating judge has ordered influential Islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi to remain in custody, his party said on its official social media channels on Thursday.

The Ennahdha party denounced in a statement on Facebook the “unfair imprisonment” of its leader, after Ghannouchi was arrested by police on Monday. On its English-language Twitter account, the party said Ghannouchi was charged with conspiring against state security and ordered him jailed pending trial.

Ghannouchi, 81, is the most prominent critic of President Kais Saied. He served as the speaker of Tunisia’s parliament until Saied dissolved the body last July and seized most executive powers in the North African country, a move Ghannouchi and other opponents call a coup.

He has been detained for questioning several times in the past, but the circumstances of his last arrest suggest that this time it was more serious.

Tunisia’s official TAP news agency reported earlier this week that anti-terror prosecutors detained him with an arrest warrant as part of an investigation into recent “provocative” comments. He did not elaborate.

Other Tunisian media reported that Ghannouchi was due to be questioned about a video circulating online in which he allegedly says that the president’s attempts to “eradicate” the Islamist opposition threaten to unleash a civil war.

The move comes amid rising social tensions and deepening economic problems in Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring pro-democracy movement more than a decade ago.



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