Tunisian court frees prominent media critic of president on bail

TUNIS (Reuters) – A Tunisian appeals court on Wednesday released media owner Noureddine Boutar on bail, his Mosaique FM ratio station said, months after his arrest alongside prominent critics of President Kais Saied.

Boutar remains banned from travelling with bail set at 1 million dinars ($320,000), Mosaique reported.

His detention in February came amid a wave of arrests of opposition politicians, activists and other prominent figures who had criticised Saied, many of whom have been accused of conspiring against state security.

More arrests have followed in recent weeks including the opposition leader and former parliament speaker Rached Ghannouchi, who has been sentenced to a year in prison.

Two well-known Mosaique reporters were referred to police for investigation last week.

Opposition figures say the charges are politically motivated, accusing Saied of a coup for shutting down the elected parliament in 2021, eroding judicial independence and moving to rule by decree before passing a new constitution.

Saied has denied staging a coup, saying his actions were needed to save Tunisia from chaos under a corrupt elite, and has accused his critics of being criminals, terrorists and traitors.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; writing by Angus McDowall; editing by Mark Heinrich)