“Sheraton Gate” Blogger Olfa Riahi Faces Travel Ban

By Bernard Yaros | Jan 8 2013 Share on Linkedin Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Share on pinterest Print

Tags: Charfeddine Kellil ,Ministry of Foreign Affairs ,Olfa Riahi ,Public money embezzlement ,Sheraton Gate

Blogger Olfa Riahi

An investigative judge in a Tunis court has issued a travel ban on Tunisian blogger Olfa Riahi, who leaked potentially damaging information on Foreign Affairs Minister Rafik Abdessalem. The travel ban represents the latest development in the controversy over Abdessalem's hotel stays at the Sheraton that has come to be known as “Sheraton Gate.”

I will not shrink from such practices that don't intimidate me at all, Riahi told state news agency TAP.

The travel ban has attracted critical responses from within the governing Troà¯ka coalition. In an interview with Tunisian radio Mosaique FM, spokesperson of Ettakatol party Mohamed Bennour called on civil society to mobilize to bring down this decision.

We denounce this procedure and consider it an affront to the freedom of expression… I consider investigative journalism to be very positive uncovering the hidden truth to the public, he said.

Charfeddine Kellil, a member of the “group of 25 lawyers” representing Riahi, told Nessma TV yesterday that the accusations against Riahi are unfounded because her actions were fully legal. Kellil mentioned that the travel ban is the only sanction made against Riahi thus far, and expressed his disdain for such a practice, saying its sole purpose is to “harass” his client.

Kellil asserted to the public that the lawsuit, which the “group of 25 lawyers” is pursuing against Abdessalem, will uncover “catastrophes” regarding the government's misuse of public funds and implicate high-level officials.

Riahi posted on her Facebook page yesterday: Please do not ban them (those officials to be potentially implicated in “Sheraton Gate”) from traveling, let who wants to escape escape already. We remain, and right prevails and nothing can overcome it.”

On December 26, Riahi posted on her blog hotel receipts, which showed that Abdessalem had spent several nights at the luxury Sheraton hotel in downtown Tunis. The released documents raised questions over the misuse of public money by the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Roua Seghaier contributed to reporting

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      • its not known if her allegations are false yet….I have not seen anywhere that she admitted she had lied……..indeed if it is not true then yes she must face consequences.

        • Yeah, you have to be fluent in arabic.
          She was on Hannibal TV, she pathetically cried and said that the adultery accusation was used by her to shed light about the multiple hotel nights that the M.F.A paid for…
          Then she again pathetically said that she was sorry for the woman she accused (not the minister!)…

          Anyway, this is no news.

          • thanks for that information. I do not get Hannibal TV. the understanding of arabic is fortunately not the problem….. appreciate your comments.

  1. As always bias reporting from the team at Tunisia-Live. Why do I not see any comments from the opposing side to this issue? Could you not get a quote from the Nahdha party? government? lawyers representing the government? At least try to act like a proper news organisation.
    Dont get me wrong I dont think she should’ve been banned from travelling but that doesn’t mean you dont educate us with giving the other side a voice, thats what true reporting is about.

    • Dude, these are interns…funded by who knows what, some US State Department program, MEPI maybe…Basically some college kids who don’t speak Arabic, maybe be some french who get their information and translations from other biased Tunisians (that’s who they orbit with and hang around with).

      Then are living the experience of their life while writing 200 words articles that lacks substance.

      On the positive note, and by opposition to other Tunisian news sources, I haven’t caught Tunisia-live lying. They might tell half truths, but no miss-information so far.