Tunisian police arrest ex-Prime Minister Jebali on suspicion of money laundering

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Tunisian police arrested former Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, who is also a former senior member of the Ennahda party, on suspicion of money laundering on Thursday, his lawyer told Reuters.

Police in the city of Sousse seized Jebali’s phone and his wife’s phone and took him to an unknown location, his family said on Facebook.

Jebali’s arrest has raised opposition concerns about human rights since President Kais Saied took over executive power last year in a move his opponents called a coup.

The Interior Ministry declined to comment on Jebali’s arrest. The ministry has convened a press conference for Friday, without giving details.

Jebali’s defense team said they met him at his detention center.

“Jebali has told us that he will not answer the questions of the investigators and he has gone on hunger strike because the issue is politically motivated and has nothing to do with money laundering,” said Jebali’s lawyer Mokhtar Jemai.

Ennahda was the largest party in Tunisia’s parliament before Saied dissolved the assembly and took over executive power last year, a move the party and other critics denounced as a coup d’état. Saied said the move was temporary and necessary to save Tunisia from what he saw as a corrupt, selfish elite.

“The president is personally responsible for Jebali’s physical and psychological well-being,” his family said in the Facebook post, calling on civil society and human rights groups to “stand up against these repressive practices”.

Jebali was prime minister in 2012 and resigned in 2013 after a political crisis.

Earlier this year, police arrested Noureddine Bhiri, Ennahda’s vice president, for more than two months before releasing him without charge.

Saied’s opponents say he is campaigning through law enforcement to attack his opponents, but he denies this and says he is not a dictator.


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