Tunisian police on Thursday arrested former Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, who is also a former senior Ennahda party official, on suspicion of money laundering, his lawyer told Reuters.
Police in the city of Sousse seized Jebali’s phone and that of his wife and took him to an unknown location, according to a statement from his family on Facebook.
Jebali’s arrest has raised opposition human rights concerns since President Kais Saied seized control of the executive branch last year, in a move his opponents have called a coup .
The Interior Ministry declined to comment on Jebali’s arrest. The ministry called a press conference for Friday, without giving details.
Jebali’s defense team said they met him in his detention center.
“Jebali told us that he would not answer questions from investigators and he went on a hunger strike because the issue is politically motivated and has nothing to do with money laundering,” the statement said. lawyer from Jebali, Mokhtar Jemai.
Ennahda was the largest party in Tunisia’s parliament before Saied dissolved the assembly and seized executive power last year, a move the party and other critics have condemned as a coup. Saied said the move was temporary and necessary to save Tunisia from what he saw as a corrupt and self-interested elite.
“The president is personally responsible for Jebali’s physical and psychological well-being,” his family said in the Facebook post, and called on civil society and human rights organizations “to stand up against these repressive practices.”
Jebali served as Prime Minister in 2012 and resigned in 2013 following 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 waging a campaign through the police and the judiciary to target his opponents, but he denies this and says he is not a dictator.
(TNZT with REUTERS)