President asks Tunisian president for news of Ennahda official arrested


TUNIS, January 2 (Reuters) – Suspended Tunisian parliament speaker Rached Ghannouchi said he asked President Kais Saied in a letter to reveal the fate and condition of Ennahda party official Noureddine Bhairi, who was arrested on Friday.

Members of the moderate Islamist party said Bhairi was in poor health and had received reports that he had not been allowed to take his usual medication since his arrest.

Photos and videos posted by Ennahda members and supporters on Facebook showed people gathering outside the hospital in Bizerte, claiming that Bhairi had been taken there.

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The Interior Ministry did not confirm Bhairi’s arrest, claiming only that two anonymous people were placed under house arrest to protect national security.

No official from Saied’s administration was immediately available for comment.

Ennahda, who accused Saied of a coup for suspending parliament in July and accumulating executive powers, said plainclothes agents seized Bhairi on Friday morning.

Since Saied’s intervention, several senior politicians and business leaders have been arrested or prosecuted, many of them for corruption or defamation.

Rights groups have criticized some of the arrests and the use of military courts to hear cases.

Saied pledged to respect the rights and freedoms acquired during the Tunisian revolution of 2011, which ushered in democracy and sparked “Arab Spring” uprisings across the region.

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Reporting by Tarek Amara; Written by Ahmad Elhamy; Editing by Kevin Liffey

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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