Tunisia Shuts TV Station Owned by Opposition Leader

Tunisia’s independent media regulator HAICA has closed a television station, Nesma TV, owned by the Heart of Tunisia party leader, Nabil Karoui.

According to a statement issued, Nessma TV was alleged to be broadcasting without a licence and despite multiple letters and meetings, the channel continued its activities illegally.

HAICA also attributed the channel’s closure to suspicions of financial and administrative corruption, adding that the channel’s ownership by a political party leader influenced the content of its programmes.

HAICA had previously seized the channel’s equipment in April 2019 for the same reasons.

In July Karoui’s former opponent, President Kais Saied, sacked the prime minister, suspended parliament and granted himself judicial powers after months of political stalemate.

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He followed that move last month with measures that effectively allow him to rule by decree in Tunisia, in what opponent’s called his coup.

Karoui, the leader of the Qalb Tounes (Liberal) party, has been under investigation in his home country since 2017 in a money laundering and tax evasion case.

He was arrested in 2019 and spent more than a month in prison during his election campaign, before another six months of preventive detention that ended in June this year.

The business mogul allied himself during the election campaign with the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, Saied’s nemesis, although Karoui opposed Islamist policies and campaigned against poverty.

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