3 Tunisian journalists arrested over nude photo

February 15, 2012 - 4:35 PM

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — The head of a Tunisian newspaper and two of its editors were arrested Wednesday for violating public morals, the Justice Ministry said, after the publishing of a photo of a sports figure with a nude woman.

The daily printed a photograph of German-Tunisian football player Sami Khedira of Real Madrid dressed in a tuxedo with his hands covering the breasts of his otherwise naked German model girlfriend, Lena Gercke.

Ministry spokesman Chokri Nafti said the prosecutor of the republic ordered the detention of Attounisia newspaper's publisher, Nasreddine Ben Said, the editor in chief, Hbib Guizani, and the editor of the world section, Hedi Hidhri, pending the investigation. They were charged with an assault on public morality.

A journalist at the paper said it has also received phone calls threatening to burn the premises down. The building is now guarded by police.

She spoke on condition of anonymity because she feared retaliation from religious extremists.

Though Tunisia is not as as conservative as its neighbors, it is an unusual move for a newspaper here to run such a photo.

Since the downfall last year of Tunisia's secular dictator, there has been a newly visible ultraconservative Islamist movement that has clashed with the more aggressively secular elements in society.

Tunisia's top appellate court, meanwhile, delayed until Feb. 24 an appeal of a lower court's ruling to block pornographic websites.