The editor, director and a journalist of the Tunisian daily Attounissia were arrested on February 15th after running a front page photo of half-Tunisian Real Madrid Midfielder Sami Khedira posing with his German model girlfriend Lena Gercke.
The photo, which runs on the cover of the March 2012 issue of the German GQ magazine shows Khedira in a tuxedo covering the breasts of Gercke with his hand. Gercke is nude in the photo. The photo has been widely shared on social networks, and on websites about the wives and girlfriends of football players.
According to the online edition of Attounissia, a prosecutor has ordered a judicial investigation into the circumstances leading to the decision of the Arabic language paper’s decision to publish the photo. The editor is being charged with “disrespecting public decency” while the newspaper claims it was simply reporting sports news. The newsmen are currently being held in custody, in the prison of Bouchoucha outside of Tunis.
Along with other published condemnations of the Tunisian Government, Attounisia accused the Minister of Culture, Mehdi Mabrouk of saying he wanted to standardize artistic tastes which the paper claims is a new form of censorship.
The Tunisian Union of Journalists have condemned the arrests. This is the first case since the revolution that journalists in Tunisia have been arrested for the content they have published.
Officials from both the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Justice were unavailable for comment at press time.