Tunis, Aug 16 (Reuters) - A former aide to Tunisian
President Moncef Marzouki said on Thursday he had been ordered
to stand trial in a military court after criticising the army,
in a case that may raise concerns about freedoms in the
birthplace of Arab Spring revolts.
The country's interior ministry confirmed Ayoub Massoudi
would be tried by the military and authorities had barred him
from leaving the country. But a ministry official declined to
give details of the charges.
Massoudi, who resigned as the president's media adviser in
June, told Reuters airport guards prevented him from flying out
to visit family members in Paris on Thursday.
"They told me that I was banned from traveling and that I
have to appear before a martial court without giving me any
other details," he said.
"There is no doubt that this is a political issue because I
have criticised leaders of the army and security officials," he
Massoudi has publicly accused the head of the army Rachid
Ammar of playing a key role in the divisive decision to
extradite Muammar Gaddafi's prime minister Baghadi al-Mahmoudi
The extradition sparked a political crisis in Tunisia.
President Marzouki, a veteran human rights activist, said he had
not been consulted on the decision, and had withheld his
permission for the transfer for months over concerns that
Mahmoudi would not receive a fair trial.
Tunisian democracy activists initially hailed the army's
role in the revolution that toppled former president Zine
al-Abidine Ben Ali last year and inspired revolts across the
But public support has waned following Mahmoudi's
Massoudi's case comes at a sensitive time for a Tunisian
transition already marred by disputes over a new constitution
and the eruption of protests by Tunisians eager to see
authorities fulfill the promise of their revolution.
Secular opposition parties have accused the government, led
by the Islamic Ennahda Movement, of muzzling free speech, a
charge it dismisses.
(Reporting By Tarek Amara; Writing by Souhail Karam)