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Tunis Frees Critic on Bail

FILE: Journalists protest after the arrest of the general manager of Radio Mosaïque, Noureddine Boutar, Thursday, Feb.16, 2023 in Tunis. According to the Journalists Union, the arrest was based on opposing Tunisian President Kaies Saied.

TUNIS - A Tunisian appeals court on Wednesday released media owner Noureddine Boutar on bail, his Mosaique FM ratio station said, months after his arrest alongside prominent critics of President Kais Saied.

Boutar, whose bail was set at 1 million dinars ($320,000), remains barred from traveling, Mosaique FM reported.

Two well-known Mosaique FM reporters were referred to police for investigation last week.

Boutar's detention in February came amid a wave of arrests of opposition politicians, activists and other prominent figures who had criticized President Saied, many of whom have been accused of conspiring against state security.

More arrests have followed in recent weeks - including opposition leader and former parliament speaker Rached Ghannouchi.

Opposition figures say the charges against these people are politically motivated, accusing Saied of a coup for shutting down the elected parliament in 2021, eroding judicial independence, and moving to rule by decree before passing a new constitution.

Saied has denied staging a coup, saying his actions were needed to save Tunisia from chaos under a corrupt elite, and has accused his critics of being criminals, terrorists and traitors.