The vice-president of the Tunisian muslim brotherhood movement has had his detention extended.
On Tuesday, 29th August, a judge decided to prolong the detention of several suspects, according to Asharq Al-Aawsat.
The anti-terrorism, investigative judge added an additional four months to the sentence of the suspects, which include the former interior minister and vice-president of the “Ennahda” party, Ali Laarayed.
The opposition Islamist political party, which is the governmental opponent of President Kais Saied, was shut down in 2021 by Kaies when he took all powers into his hands, Reuters reported during the initial arrest.
The decision also applies to former officials in the Ministry of Interior, Abdul Karim Al Obaidi, and Fathi Al-Baladi, who is accused of establishing a parallel security apparatus that follows the Ennahda leaders’ instructions.
Also included in security and judicial investigations is Sayf al-Din Rayes, a former spokesman for the banned Ansar al-Sharia organisation and a detainee in this case, according to Asharq Al-Aawsat.
This sentence is the latest in a series of legal actions taken by President Kais Saied, after he seized control of the judiciary last year, in his efforts to crack down on opponents. When questioned, he was quoted as saying that, those arrested, were what he described as, “terrorists” who had “plotted against state security”.
After he seized power, at least 17 current or former members of “Ennahda”, have already been arrested since December 2022.
Among these, the most high-profile figure was the founder and leader of the party, Rached Ghannouchi. He was the most prominent critic of president Kais Saied and was the speaker of the elected parliament.
Earlier this year in April, police detained him at his home on the charge of plotting against the security of the state, the Assosiated Press (AP) reported.
In May 2023, the 81 year old was sentenced to a year in prison.
The human rights organisation Amnesty International stated that, as a result of the anti-terrorism law established in 2021, there has been an “intensifying campaign against the country’s largest party, which is part of a crackdown on dissidents and perceived critics of President Kais Saied”, Amnesty said.
The Amnesty International acting deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Rawya Rageh, also warned against the authorities use of “repressive and vague laws, as a pretext for repression as well as investigation and persecution. The sentencing of Ghannouchi shows a growing crackdown on human rights and opposition and a deeply worrying pattern,” she said.
Following the onset of arrests, the US State Department has said it is “deeply concerned” by the string of arrests, while the UN Human Rights Office has called for their immediate release.