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23.09.2021 Tunisia

Jailed Tunisia MP has been freed: wife

By AFP
Tunisian parliamentarian Yassine Ayari gestures during a session in the capital Tunis on February 15, 2018 -- his vocal criticism of authorities has brought him many run-ins with the law.  By FETHI BELAID (AFP/File)
LISTEN SEP 23, 2021
Tunisian parliamentarian Yassine Ayari gestures during a session in the capital Tunis on February 15, 2018 -- his vocal criticism of authorities has brought him many run-ins with the law. By FETHI BELAID (AFP/File)

A jailed Tunisian member of parliament who went on a hunger strike to protest military trials of civilians has been released, his wife said on Thursday.

Yassine Ayari, an independent MP, had spent nearly two months in detention.

He was arrested at the end of July after branding President Kais Saied's decision to suspend parliament and sack top officials a "military coup".

Tunisia's military court had said he was detained pursuant to a two-month prison sentence passed in late 2018 for criticising the army in comments on Facebook.

Ayari's wife Cyrine Fitouri told AFP on Thursday that "he got out of prison yesterday. He is doing well although a little tired and disoriented".

She added that he had ended his hunger strike on Tuesday, after two weeks.

"The charges against him remain," she said.

Fitouri was among about 40 people in Tunis who rallied on September 11 to support him as he was due to attend a military court hearing.

"We demand his liberation... a civilian should only be tried by a civil court, not a military tribunal," Fakhreddine Belgaid, a member of Ayari's Amal wa Aamal (Hope and Labour) party, said at that time.

Ayari's vocal criticism of authorities has brought him many run-ins with the law.

His release came on the same day Saied, the North African country's president, took exceptional measures strengthening the powers of his office at the expense of the government and parliament.

On July 25 he had sacked the government, suspended parliament, removed lawmakers' immunity and put himself in charge of the prosecution, in the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings of a decade ago.

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