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Prosecutor blocks release of Tunisian opposition figures

Chaima Issa will be released from prison on Friday unless the public prosecutor’s office appeals the judge’s decision.

Tunisia’s public prosecutor has appealed a judge’s decision to release a well-known opponent of President Kais Said after his arrest in February, according to his lawyer.

As a result, Chaima Issa will not be released from prison on Friday, lawyer Dalila Emsaddek told reporters.

A decision on whether to release him or keep him in prison will be made within days, lawyers said. Isa was arrested on charges of conspiracy.

Issa is a prominent leader of the National Salvation Front (NSF), Syed’s main opposition coalition, which has organized protests against him since seizing additional powers in 2021 and shutting down the elected parliament.

Authorities have detained more than 20 political, judicial, media and business figures with ties to the opposition in recent months on charges of conspiring against state security.

They were detained to investigate claims of “conspiracy against state security” and being labeled as “terrorists” by Saeed.

Among those detained was Rashed Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahda party, which was the largest in parliament before Said took control.

Earlier this week, prominent Tunisian journalist Zeid El-Heini was arrested by a plainclothes in-house squad who raided his home in a suburb of the capital, Tunis, according to local media.

The main opposition parties denounced the arrests as politically motivated and rights groups called on the authorities to release the detainees.

On Sunday, hundreds of NSF supporters rallied to demand the release of Syed’s 20 jailed opponents.

In July 2021, the president suspended parliament and dismissed the government in a dramatic move against the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings.

His critics called the move a “coup” while local and international rights groups denounced a “witch hunt” aimed at “suppressing” dissent in the North African country.

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