TUNIS (Reuters): Tunisian opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi, a fierce critic of President Kais Saied, will begin a hunger strike in prison, according to a statement from his Islamist Ennahda party released on Friday.
Ghannouchi, 82, has been in prison since April. His lawyer said the charges stem from a funeral eulogy he gave last year for a member of his Ennahda party when he said the deceased “did not fear a ruler or tyrant, he only feared God.”
A Tunisian judge sentenced Ghannouchi in absentia last May to a year in prison on charges of incitement, his lawyer Monia Bouali said.
The leader of the Islamist Ennahda party is also accused of plotting against state security along with other detained opposition figures who accuse Saied of a coup for shutting down the elected parliament and moving to rule by decree.
Saied, who enshrined his new powers in a constitution that he passed through a referendum with low turnout last year, has denied his actions were a coup and said they were needed to save Tunisia from years of chaos.
He has called his critics criminals, traitors and terrorists and warned that any judge who freed them would be considered abetting them.
Ghannouchi, a political prisoner and exile before the 2011 revolution that brought democracy, was parliament speaker from the 2019 election until Saied sent tanks to shut down the chamber in 2021.
Police have detained more than 20 political figures this year, including Ghannouchi, accusing some of plotting against state security.