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Tunisian journalist Khalifa Guesmi has announced that the Tunis Court of Appeal has sentenced him to five years in prison for "intentionally disclosing any of the information relating to interception, infiltration or audiovisual surveillance operations or the data collected therein".


Last November, the journalist was sentenced to one year in prison in first instance. Khalifa Guesmi, a reporter for Mosaïque FM, the most popular radio station in Tunisia, was detained for a week in March 2022 following the publication of an article on the dismantling of a "terrorist cell" and the arrest of its members. A police officer, accused of providing information to the journalist, was sentenced on appeal to 10 years in prison in the same case.


Reacting to the case, the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) issued a statement expressing its "shock". "This is the heaviest sentence in the history of the Tunisian press, including under the dictatorship. It is a political message that shows a shift to a higher gear in the punishment of the press and journalists, to intimidate them through the judiciary," said the SNJT.


In a joint statement, national and international NGOs denounced "a masquerade verdict" and "a major setback for the judicial system", warning "against the seriousness of the repressive orientation of the current government" and calling on activists and civil society "to mobilise to defend freedoms and human rights".