Tunisia shuts television channel of ex-presidential candidate

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Tunisia’s top media authority on Wednesday ordered the closure of Nessma TV channel, founded by former presidential candidate Nabil Karoui who is detained in Algeria.

The authority, known as Haica, seized the channel’s broadcast equipment, saying in a statement that Nessma TV – which is partly owned by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi – was broadcasting without a license.

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“Despite multiple letters and meetings, the channel continued its activities illegally,” the authority said.

It also attributed the closure to “suspicions of financial and administrative corruption”, adding that the channel’s ownership by a political party leader “influenced the content of its programs.”

Haica had previously seized the channel’s equipment in April 2019 for the same reasons.

Karoui himself -- a runner-up in the 2019 presidential election -- has been held alongside his brother in Algeria since late August on charged of “entering the country illegally.”

In July, Karoui’s former opponent, President Kais Saied, suspended parliament and granted himself sweeping powers, hitting judges, MPs and businessmen with arrests and travel bans in what was labeled an anti-corruption purge.

Karoui, the leader of the Qalb Tounes party, has been under investigation in his home country since 2017 in a money laundering and tax evasion case.

Following Saied’s extraordinary measures on July 25, many speculated that Karoui had fled abroad.

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