After going on trial for money-laundering and “incitement to violence,” the speaker of Tunisia’s disbanded parliament and President Kais Saied’s fiercest foe was freed late Thursday, according to his lawyer.
Rached Ghannouchi, who also serves as the leader of the Ennahdha party with Islamist roots, was previously questioned about the issue in July. Saied took over leadership in Tunisia in the middle of 2021.
Other Ennahdha members are also being investigated for allegedly engaging in shady deals with the digital content company Instalingo.
Since last year, the business has been the subject of an inquiry over allegations of “plotting against state security” and instigating violence.
Ghannouchi was freed by the investigating judge after a 14-hour session, according to his attorney Sami Triki, who also noted that a date for the next hearing has not yet been determined.
The 81-year-old had earlier in the day appeared in court in the seaside city of Sousse and told reporters that the matter was a “empty file” and a “fabricated issue.”
He said that the situation was made up in order to divert attention away from the true issues Tunisians were dealing with.
Saied’s July 2021 power grab, during which the president dismissed the Ennahdha-supported administration and assumed complete administrative control, has drawn scathing criticism from Ghannouchi.
Saied also oversaw the dissolution of the parliament and the passage of a constitution that gave his own office almost unrestricted authority.
In a different matter, the “shipping of jihadists” to combat zones, which has been at the center of the political discussion for years and has only lately revived, Ghannouchi and other Ennahdha leaders are also accused.
All allegations made against Ennahdha’s members are denied.
Judges froze Ghannouchi’s bank accounts in Tunisia, as well as those of other family members and party members, in July.
That followed a court injunction against him granted in May as part of an investigation into the 2013 murders of two well-known left-wing leaders.
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