By Tarek Amara
TUNIS (Reuters) -A Tunisian judge on Thursday ordered the imprisonment of Abir Moussi, a prominent opponent of President Kais Saied, two days after she was arrested at the presidential palace entrance, her lawyer said, part of a crackdown on opposition politicians.
Investigations of Moussi, the leader of the Free Constitutional Party (PDL), went on for hours while her supporters gathered, raising slogans demanding her immediate release and slogans against Saied.
Interior ministry officials declined to comment.
Police this year have detained more than 20 leading political figures, including Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of the Islamist Ennahdha Party, accusing some of plotting against state security.
Saied has described those detained as “terrorists, traitors and criminals”. Saied, a retired law professor who was elected president in 2019, shut down the elected parliament in 2021 and moved to rule by decree, actions his opponents described as a coup and which he rejects.
“After five hours of investigation, the judge ordered the imprisonment of Moussi on suspicion of processing personal data, obstructing the right to work, and assault intended to cause chaos,” lawyer Nafaa Laaribi said.
Moussi, was arrested on Tuesday when she went to the presidential reception office to file an appeal in a decree of local elections expected at the end of the year.
She said in a video that this step was necessary so that she could later file an appeal in the Administrative Court.
Moussi’s Party warned in a statement against “attempts to fabricate legal obstacles to remove her from participating in the presidential elections” expected next year.
In recent months, the party has organized protests against Saied. Moussi accuses Saied of ruling outside the law.
Moussi is a supporter of late authoritarian president Zine El Abidine ben Ali who was toppled by mass protests in 2011, an uprising that later spread throughout the Middle East and became known as “the Arab Spring”.
She describes these revolutions as a “spring of destruction” and accused Western intelligence of changing the rulers in the region and pushing political Islam into power.
(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Grant McCool)