Samir Feriani is a high-positioned police officer who worked at the training center of the Tunisian anti-espionage services. He was arrested on May 29th, 2011 by members affiliated with the Ministry of Interior.
Prior to his sudden arrest, Feriani had published a letter in the Tunisian independent newspapers Expert and L’Audace addressed to the current Minister of Interior, Habib Essid. The letter accused high positioned officials at the Ministry of Interior — including the newly nominated Chief of the anti-espionage cell — of involvement in killing protesters during the days of the January 14th revolution. Feriani also directly accused his new superior, already known for opposing his nomination, of corruption and embezzlement. The list also included accusations of deliberate destruction of crucial archives belonging to the Ministry of Interior. According to Feriani, the articles contain official reports and details about the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), which was based in Tunisia from 1982 to 1994, as well as details concerning relations between Ben Ali’s government and Israel’s most well-known intelligence agency, The Mossad.(1)
Feriani’s copious accusations against the Ministry led to investigations within the ministry itself, where it was released that Feriani’s accusations have no roots in reality (2) — there has been no corruption or monetary embezzlement, as claimed by Feriani, and the archives have remained intact. The Ministry of Interior responded to these claims by arresting Samir Feriani and accusing him of conspiracy against the nation, as well as of disturbance of public order. Instead of issuing a regular arrest warrant against Samir Feriani, however, Feriani was assaulted and abducted by governmental security officials on Sunday, May 29th, and has since been detained at the Tunis-Aouina military base (2).
The arrest of Feriani has raised the alarm of Tunisian activists and bloggers, who have considered him a prisoner of opinion and have called for his immediate release. Human Rights Watch and Anonymous — a group of anonymous hackers who already had hacked several official websites of the Tunisian government earlier this year — also took part in the campaign. Anonymous even produced a video, addressed to the Tunisian government demanding the release of Feriani. The group claims that the archives of the Ministry of Interior are the political history of the Tunisian people, and that they should not be destroyed or hidden. In the same video, Anonymous says that “they don’t forget or forgive,” and claims that more activists and organizations will be joining the campaign to call for the release of Samir Feriani. The video ends with a threatening statement — “expect us” — which should alert the government that more hacking is to come if these demands are not met.
Samir Feriani went on a hunger strike on Monday, September 19th demanding a more fair and transparent trial, which was set up on the same Thursday of the week. Tunisians who are still sympathetic with Samir Feriani’s case created events on Facebook to support him through the trial, others gathered at the military court. On Thursday, September 22nd, Feriani made the buzz again. He was freed temporarily.