Jabeur Mejri, jailed for posting Prophet Muhammad cartoons on Facebook, was freed yesterday [March, 4].
In a statement, Mejri's support committee announced [fr] his release last night:
Détenu depuis deux années pour s’être exprimé, Jabeur Mejri a été libéré.
Le premier prisonnier d’opinion de Tunisie depuis les évènements de janvier 2011, a été libéré ce soir.
Detained since two years for expressing himself, Jabeur Mejri has been released. The first prisoner of conscience in Tunisia since the events of January 2011 [ouster of former dictator Zeine en Abidin Ben Ali], has been released tonight
Mejri has been in jail since March 2012. He was convicted to seven and half years in prison for publishing content “liable to cause harm to public order and morality”, “insulting others through public communication networks” and “assaulting public morals”.
On February 19, the president's office announced a pardon for Mejri. However, to the surprise of his supporters, an “embezzlement of funds” case dating back to July, 2011, kept the 30 year-old man in prison. Under this case, Mejri is accused of stealing around 1600 Tunisian Dinars worth of metro tickets when he was working at a railways company.
However, an arrest warrant was only issued in late January, 2014, a couple of weeks before the announcement of his pardon.
His support committee described the revival of the 2011 case as “judicial harassment”[fr]:
Si cette mise en liberté est une nouvelle de première importance, et une victoire pour l’ensemble des défenseurs de la Liberté de conscience et la liberté d’expression, le Comité de soutien restera actif tant que l’ensemble des charges retenues contre Jabeur Mejri seront maintenues, et tant que Jabeur Mejri n’aura pas été réhabilité.
Nous ne manquerons pas de communiquer et d’informer sur cette seconde affaire qui n’a eu d’autres objectifs que de maintenir Jabeur Mejri en prison en dépit de la grâce présidentielle.
Though this release represents news of great importance and a victory for all supporters of freedom of conscience and free speech, the support committee will remain active as long as all charges [embezzlement of funds] against Jabeur Mejri are not dismissed and as long as he is not rehabilitated. We will not miss to communicate updates on this second case, which only had as an objective keeping Jabeur Mejri in prison, despite the presidential pardon
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