In Tunisia, France 24’s live broadcast interrupted during the violent arrest of a lawyer

In Tunisia, France 24’s live broadcast interrupted during the violent arrest of a lawyer
In Tunisia, France 24’s live broadcast interrupted during the violent arrest of a lawyer
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Sonia Dahmani at the Maison des Avocats in Tunis, May 10, 2024. MOHAMED HAMMI/SIPA / MOHAMED HAMMI/SIPA

By Le Nouvel Obs with AFP

Published on May 12, 2024 at 9:08 a.m.

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Security forces stormed the Lawyer’s House in Tunis this Saturday, May 11, and arrested Sonia Dahmani, a lawyer and columnist, after making sarcastic remarks about the situation in Tunisia. The continuous news channel France 24, whose journalists were on site to cover the movement in support of the lawyer, saw its live broadcast interrupted at the time of the arrest.

The French media strongly protested in a press release against the attitude of the hooded police officers who, according to it, “directed to the channel team” in full live, “instructing him to cut the camera under the strong protests of Maryline Dumas”the journalist on site.

“The police ended up violently tearing the camera from its tripod, stopping the live broadcast of the scene, and arrested Hamdi Tlili. The cameraman was released after around ten minutes and the France 24 correspondent is fine”added the channel, which broadcast the images of the scene on X (formerly Twitter).

France 24 “strongly condemns this obstruction of press freedom and this brutal and intimidating intervention by the police preventing its journalists from exercising their profession, while they were covering a demonstration of lawyers for respect for justice and in support for freedom of expression »added the channel.

The lawyer faces up to five years in prison

The arrest of Sonia Dahmani was reported by Dalila Msaddek, a member of her defense team, in a Facebook publication. She describes a “Police assault on the Lawyer’s House”in front of the Tunis courthouse, and assures that lawyers have been “attacked” and that Sonia Dahmani was taken “to an unknown place”. The facts were confirmed by Islam Hamza, another defender of the lawyer, contacted by AFP.

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According to media reports, Sonia Dahmani is the subject of an investigation in particular for broadcasting “false information with the aim of harming public safety” And “incitement to hate speech”under Decree-Law 54. This decree, promulgated in September 2022 by President Kais Saied, punishes with up to five years in prison anyone who uses information and communication networks to “write, produce, disseminate (or) spread false news […] with the aim of infringing the rights of others or harming public safety”.

Tuesday, during a television show, Sonia Dahmani launched in an ironic way “what extraordinary country are we talking about? », in response to another columnist who had just stated that migrants from several sub-Saharan African countries were seeking to settle in Tunisia. This statement was judged by some users on social networks as “degrading” for the image of Tunisia.

On Thursday, Sonia Dahmani received a summons, which she did not respond to, to appear on Friday before an investigating judge without the reasons being specified, according to Me Dalila Msaddek.

Sonia Dahmani explained to the press that she refused to appear in court “without knowing the reasons for this summons”. Due to his absence, the investigating judge in charge of this case issued a warrant for his arrest, which led to his arrest this Saturday.

By Le Nouvel Obs with AFP

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