The campaign of investigations on charges of conspiring against state security targeted the leader of the opposition Salvation Front and the veteran opposition political activist, Najib al-Shabi, at a time when the front is preparing to carry out a protest movement in the center of the capital, the day after tomorrow, Sunday.
On Friday morning, Najib Al-Shabi appeared before the investigative judge at the anti-terrorism judicial pole in the capital, to be interrogated on charges of conspiracy against state security, a charge that carries a death sentence and affected dozens of politicians.
Today, supporters of the Salvation Front carried out a stand in solidarity with Chebbi, expressing their refusal to interrogate him in a case they consider “politicized and invalid.” Protesters raised slogans calling for an end to persecuting opponents.
Karim Marzouk, one of the defense lawyers for the leader of the Salvation Front, told Al-Jazeera Net that Al-Shabi “has been referred for a set of charges in the case of conspiracy against state security, and related to crimes found in the Anti-Terrorism Law and the criminal case related to the formation of a terrorist confederation and conspiracy against the internal and external security of the state.”
Marzouk confirms that there are no legal supports against the political activists referred for conspiracy against state security, indicating that the file of Najib al-Shabi contains many presumptions of innocence, and that his prosecution took place on the basis of his exercise of rights and freedoms, including freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of assembly and organization.
He added, “Today, opponents have become annoying voices for the authority, and it has become clear that it is heading towards a repressive authoritarian approach to restrict rights and freedoms, and in this context, it targeted opponents through political trials in the absence of fair trial guarantees.”
Before the revolution, Chebbi was considered one of the most prominent figures in the opposition, and he headed the Progressive Democratic Party, one of the fiercest parties in opposition to former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. After the revolution, he opposed the rising Renaissance movement to power.
And after President Kais Saied announced on July 25, 2021, his exceptional measures, according to which he dismissed the previous government, overthrew the previous parliament, and ruled the country by absolute presidential decrees, Chebbi allied with the Ennahda movement against him.
Chebbi announced the formation of the opposition National Salvation Front, which is a coalition of a number of political parties, groups, and personalities. It mainly includes the Ennahda movement, and is considered the most prominent political faction and opposition on the scene.
Since last February, that is, 120 days ago, the Tunisian authorities launched a massive campaign of arrests that included dozens of political activists from the front row of their parties from various political and intellectual currents.
Among those arrested was the head of the Islamic Ennahda Movement, Rashid Ghannouchi, who faces 5 charges; Including plotting against state security, and the arrests included the Secretary-General of the Republican Party, Essam Al-Shabi, who is the brother of Najib Al-Shabi.
The common denominator of the charges against all those arrested was the issue of conspiracy against state security and attempting to overthrow the regime, but the defense committees of the arrested politicians confirm that their files are free of any evidence or legal support.
Najib Al-Shabi said – in a statement to Al-Jazeera Net over the phone – that he decided to appear before the investigating judge, but he confirmed on the other hand that he would not make any statements because of what he considered a “fabricated political charge,” adding, “I will not be a party to this play.”
Today, Friday, the interrogation of Al-Shabi will take a few hours, but he does not know whether the investigating judge will keep him released or imprison him.
“I am ready for all possibilities, including arrest,” Chebbi said.
Chebbi, originally a lawyer, had expected his arrest on charges of conspiracy against state security since the fourth of last May, considering that opposition had become a crime during the rule of President Qais Saeed, who repeatedly accused the opposition of treason and conspiracy.
The Secretary-General of the Labor and Achievement Party, Abdul Latif Al-Makki, told Al-Jazeera Net that the authority had raised fabricated political issues against opponents of various orientations because of their exercise of their freedom.
Al-Makki added that the trials imposed on human rights activists because of their statements and opinions on issues of concern to public opinion are repressive practices aimed at violating freedom of opinion and expression.
The leader of the Democratic Current Party, Muhammad Al-Hammadi, told Al-Jazeera Net, “The interrogation of the leader of the opposition front, Naguib Al-Shabi, comes in the context of the authority’s continued targeting of opponents and all voices rejecting the July 25 coup.”
He added, “This does not come under the heading of conspiracy against state security, as much as it falls under the authority’s conspiracy against the opposition to fabricate files within the framework of unfair political simulations.”
Observers believe that what is happening in Tunisia in terms of arrests and prosecutions against politicians, jurists, journalists and trade unionists is nothing but a neat plan to harass all those who disagree with the directions of President Kais Saied.
They believe that the authorities deliberately charge dissidents with conspiracy against state security without legal support, to imprison them, abuse them, and put pressure on their lawyers and judges to prevent their release.
The political arena in Tunisia has become weak due to the escalation of the campaign of arrests and prosecutions in the first ranks of party leaders, as well as the closure of the headquarters of the Ennahda Movement and the Salvation Front.
On the other hand, the president’s supporters believe that the authorities did not launch an indiscriminate campaign to arrest political activists, and that the arrests included a specific number of political figures against whom suspicions of corruption or conspiracy were raised.
They affirm that the campaign of arrests does not aim to strike at political freedoms or exclude parties, but rather to establish the principle of justice and accountability for all those who have committed political crimes.