Tunisia: blogger Yassine Ayari jailed for criticising the army
‘No one should be imprisoned simply for criticising state officials or institutions’ - Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui
The Tunisian blogger Yassine Ayari has been sentenced to one year in jail by a military court today for criticising the army, Amnesty International can confirm.
He was convicted during a re-trial on charges of “defaming the army” in a series of Facebook posts.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said:
“Today’s one-year prison sentence imposed on Yassine Ayari by a military court exposes the extent of the limits on freedom of expression in Tunisia.
“No one should be imprisoned simply for criticising state officials or institutions.
“It is high time for the Tunisian authorities to abolish all laws that criminalise defamation and allow civilians to be tried in military courts.”
During the session, when defence lawyers complained that journalists were not allowed to be present at the re-trial, the president of the military court, a civil judge, responded by saying: “This not a court this is a [military] barracks”. Most defence lawyers reacted by leaving the court in protest. As a result, defence lawyers were unable to defend their client and only procedural points were raised.
For more on Yassine Ayari’s case, go here
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