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Tunisian cartoonist pardoned, but remains in jail

I know I’ve mentioned this case before. Here’s the back story again: Jabeur Mejri was sentenced to seven and a half years in a Tunisian jail for posting cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed on Facebook. Under pressure from human rights groups, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki had publicly stated he wanted to release Mejri, but was waiting for the appropriate time.

Well, the time appears to be now. Mejri received a presidential pardon, but wait – coincidently they discovered embezzlement charges against him preventing his release:

From the Independent Online:

The militant atheist was an unemployed graduate at the time of his imprisonment, but had worked previously at the train station ticket office in his hometown of Mahdia, 150 kilometres south of Tunis.

Neither Mselmi, Mejri’s family, the defendant’s support group or even the presidency had been told about the embezzlement case against him.

President Moncef Marzouki’s spokesman announced on Wednesday that the Tunisian head of state had pardoned Mejri, but added they had then been ?surprised? to learn of separate charges against the defendant, meaning that he could not be released immediately.

The chronology seems a bit too serendipitous to me.

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