After going on trial for money-laundering and “incitement to violence”, Rached Ghannouchi, the speaker of Tunisia’s disbanded parliament and President Kais Saied’s bitter adversary 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 case in July. Saied took over power in Tunisia in the middle of 2021.
Other Ennahdha members are also being investigated for allegedly engaging in shady transactions with the digital content company Instalingo.
Since last year, the business has been the subject of an investigation over allegations of “plotting against state security” and instigating violence.
Ghannouchi was freed by the investigating judge following 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 coastal city of Sousse and told reporters that the matter was a “empty file” and a “invented problem.”
“This is trumped-up and aimed at distracting the Tunisian people from the real problems we’re facing,” he said.
Saied’s July 2021 power grab, during which the president dismissed the Ennahdha-supported government and assumed complete administrative control, has been roundly attacked by Ghannouchi.
Saied also oversaw the dissolution of the parliament and the passage of a constitution that gave his own office nearly unrestricted authority.
In a different case, the “shipment of jihadists” to conflict zones, which has been at the center of the political debate for years and has just recently resurfaced, Ghannouchi and other Ennahdha officials 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 figures.