Tunisia military prosecutors investigates journalist for ‘harming public order’

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Tunisian military prosecutors said on Saturday they had begun investigating a journalist on suspicion of “harming public order” for saying the president had asked the army to close a powerful labour union’s headquarters, and a witness said the reporter had been arrested.

The journalist, Salah Attia, told Al Jazeera on Saturday that President Kais Saied had asked the army to close the headquarters of the UGTT union and put political leaders under house arrest, but that the army had refused.

“Police in civilian clothes arrested Attia in a cafe in the suburb of Ibn Khaldoun in the capital,” the witness, who was with Attia, told Reuters by phone.

Authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.

Saied has been facing growing criticism that he seeks to consolidate one-man rule since seizing power last summer in a move his opponents called a coup. He subsequently set aside the 2014 constitution to rule by decree and dismissed the elected parliament.

The president last month called for a national dialogue to prepare a “new constitution for a new republic” and excluded main political parties. Other major players such as the UGTT refused to participate in what it said would be a dialogue with a predetermined outcome.

The leader of the UGTT, which has about a 1 million members, said on Thursday it was being “targeted” by authorities after it refused to participate in the talks.