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Tunisia: Official Arrested for Criticizing Interior Ministry

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisia Revolution 2011.

Samir Feriani, a senior official in the Interior Ministry, was forcibly arrested by the police and taken into a military barracks in the capital Tunis on May 29. Days earlier, he had published in “Al-Khabeer” magazine two letters addressed to the Tunisian people, in which he criticized the recruitment policy of the ministry.

In his letters, he allegedly wrote that those who are now holding key positions in the interior ministry are responsible for crimes committed in the province of Kasserine, where more than 60 protesters lost their lives during the revolution. He also claims that classified documents involving the ousted president with the Israeli Mossad, were intentionally destroyed by officials in the ministry.

Samir Feriani

Samir Feriani

The move came as a shock for Tunisian bloggers who thought for a while that arresting people for speaking their mind and expressing themselves, came to an end with the fall of the former regime. Here is a run down of some the reactions on the micro-blogging site:

@riadheh:ça se passe en Tunisie post ZABA

this is taking place in a post ZABA era [ZABA is a nickname for Zeine El-Abidine Ben Ali]

@walidsa3d:#SamirFeriani is the Bradley Manning of Tunisia, we must support his cause.

@Anis_BenHamida: Début de la révolution à l'intérieur du #MI ? #Tunisie

@Anis_BenHamida: The beginning of a revolution in the Interior Ministry?

@MehdiAyadiCorra: Samir Feriani,haut fonctionnaire de police,kidnappé pour avoir dénoncé les pratiques du #MI.Il va croupir dans les geôles #Tunisie

@MehdiAyadiCorra: Samir Feriani, a senior police official, was kidnapped for denouncing the practices of the Interior Ministry [#MI]. He will suffer in jails

@emnamejri:Liberté pour Samir feriani http ye5i winhom nos journalistes, wini la société civile, les partis politikes #Tunisie

Freedom for Samir Feriani. Where are our journalists, the civil society and the political parties?

Blogger Yessine Ayari (@yassayari), interviewed Mr Feriani's wife – Leila Friani, who claimed that her husband left home on Sunday morning but never returned, and that she was only informed about his arrest on Monday. Ayari asked her about the circumstances of his arrest. She answered “he was in his car and two other cars were following him. […]He was arrested in a horrible way, as if it was abduction.” She also says that he has been charged with “leaking classified information.”

On Facebook, activists rushed to create pages to show their support for Feriani and call for his immediate release. Among these pages are Libérez Samir Feriani’ [Fr] “Free Samir Feriani” in English, and Tous Unis avec Samir Feriani[Fr] “All United with Samir Feriani” in English.

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisia Revolution 2011.

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