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Tunisia’s Hannibal back on the air

No word on status of arrested channel chief

Tunisian commercial TV station Hannibal TV was back on the air Monday morning after being shut down by police Sunday as the country struggles to stabilize after the ouster of its president.

State news agency TAP reported that the North African country’s tenuous provisional government allowed Hannibal TV to start broadcasting again after “an interruption of a few hours.”

As transmissions resumed, a government official reportedly apologized on-air to viewers for having cut its signal.

But TAP gave no information about the status of Hannibal TV president Larbi Nasri, who was arrested with his son Sunday on suspicion of using the network to try to abort the country’s nascent transition toward democracy.

Nasri, who has family ties to deposed president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s second wife, Leila Trabelsi, was charged with attempting “to restore the dictatorship of the former president,” according to a government statement.

Countering this claim, a Hannibal TV spokesman told the New York Times that “the owner was with the revolution, giving voice to all the people.”

The network’s brief shutdown occurred just as it was about to air an interview with Hamma Hammami, leader of the country’s banned Communist Party, who has been a critic of the old regime’s role in the current interim government.

The events at Hannibal TV are widely seen as a test of whether the new government is truly democratic.

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