The attack on free speech continues unabated around the world. The latest violation occurred in Tunis where a military court has handed down an absurd three year jail sentence to a blogger, blogger Yassine Ayari, for “insulting” Army officers. That is what free speech means in Tunisia. You can be criminally sentenced for “undermining” the Army through criticism.
Ayari had written about financial abuse in the military. The military court responded by convicting Ayari, 33, for “defam[ing] army officers and senior defence ministry officials.” He was convicted on November 18th while he was abroad. He then returned to Tunisia on December 25th and was arrested. He said that he was never informed of the verdict, which is quite believable given his return. (It is worth noting that we once as a nation could condemn the use of military tribunals until we embraced the “option” for some terrorist suspects — allowing presidents to make Caesar like decisions on who gets a real court and who gets a tribunal).
Ayari is undeterred and is standing firm in defense of free speech and his accusations against the Army, which is widely ridiculed. What is notable is that Ayari’s own father died in service of the Army. He was an army colonel who denied in combat with jihadists in May 2011. Now he is fighting an even greater battle against the Army itself.
The very concept of criminal defamation is an assault on free speech. Italy has such an absurd law and has used it against people who dare to criticize police or prosecutors, even in criminal cases as shown in the Amanda Knox case.