Cairo: 20 April, 2017
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said today; the press leaks attributed to “Nessma” TV channel’s owner “Nabil Karoui”, in which he attacks “I Watch” institution accusing it of treason, clearly disclose the tools used by pro-government media outlets to demonize and distort the image of the independent civil society. Unfortunately, the matter is not limited to Tunisia. The case is one in a string of smear campaigns launched against the independent civil and human rights organizations in the Arab world. ANHRI demanded to urgently take the legal procedures against Karoui, for plotting and attempting to commit a full crime in order to harm the reputation of “I Watch” organization alongside its members, and to defame journalists paying no attention to justice and court orders.
On Sunday night, April 16, a media scandal reverberated around social media websites, after an audio recording of Nabil Karoui- founder of “Nessma” privately-owned TV channel that is close to the regime of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who fled to Saudi Arabia- was leaked. The audio is likely to be a dialogue between Karoui and his channel’s board members, in which he was explaining the elements of his plan launching a smear campaign against “I Watch” Tunisian organization. And this would be by fabricating false news that would harm its reputation and calling journalists to insult and criticize them in a way that would make the public label them astraitors who are working with foreign bodies against the interest of their country. He also spoke in a way deemed insulting and degrading to the judiciary and court orders.
ANHRI said, “The leaked audio attributed to Nessma TV owner doesn’t only constitute a legal offense to “I Watch” organization which is worth investigation and judicial accountability, but also it exposes the sleazy methods used by media outlets close to the Arab governments to distort the image of civil society organizations through trumped-up accusations. What has been revealed in Tunisia, unfortunately, is almost identical to what is happening in the rest of the Arab countries, topped by Egypt Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in terms with fabricating charges and smear campaigns by ‘second-degree journalists’ who lack the minimum principles of integrity.”
ANHRI added, “Our solidarity with “I Watch” organization represents support for all independent civil society organizations in Tunisia and the Arab world, which carry out their duties under anti-rule of law regimes. We call on every impartial and professional journalist not to sell his principles for the sake of some governments that show hatred and antagonism towards freedoms and democracy.. They won’t win”.