A Tunisian military court ordered the arrest of Mohamed Naem Haj Mansour during a hearing on October 3, 2016, according to his outlet and other news reports. Mansour was summoned to the hearing as a witness, but the court changed his status to a defendant while in session, Mansour’s lawyer told Tunisian news outlets.
The case concerns two articles published on Mansour’s website, Al-Thawra News, in early 2016 alleging financial corruption in the Tunisian military. Mansour is charged with “insulting the armed forces.” If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison. Mansour denies the charges, and maintains that everything published in his articles is true, according to his outlet and statements by his lawyers to the press.
Al-Thawra News is an online journal focusing on corruption in Tunisia. Mansour is the director and founder of the site.
In late October, Mansour’s family held a press conference in which his relatives called his trial and detention “political.” Mansour was prevented from leaving the country in July, according to the family and Al-Thawra News.
Appeals by lawyers for the journalist’s release to a civilian appellate court were denied in October and again in November, according to news reports. The court maintained that the case was in the remit of the military justice system, and therefore it could not rule to release him.
Mansour was being held in Marnaqia prison, according to his outlet. A November 24 military court hearing was adjourned to a later date at the request of defense lawyers, who asked for time to prepare documents.