Last updated: 26 September, 2012

Detained former mouthpieces of Tunisia’s Ben Ali freed

A Tunisian former communications minister and a journalist considered mouthpieces of ousted dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali were freed on Wednesday after being detained for 24 hours, a judicial source said.

The arrest of Oussama Romdhani and Borhane Bsaies on Tuesday came during an inquiry into improper payments before the revolution that toppled the Ben Ali regime in January last year.

“A magistrate in the court of first instances in Ariana decided to free Mr Romdhani and Mr Bsaies,” the source said, without giving a reason for the decision.

Bsaies has been accused of receiving an income both from the education ministry and Tunisian telecoms firm Sotetel, which is illegal under Tunisian law.

He was a key figure in the country’s Atce public relations agency, which under Ben Ali wielded huge power over journalists and foreign correspondents in particular, threatening some of them because of their coverage of the revolution.

Romdhani, who was chief executive of Atce for years, before his appointment as communications minister in 2009, is accused of commanding those who intimidated journalists during the mass uprising.