Femen activists freed in Tunisia | News | DW | 27.06.2013
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Femen activists freed in Tunisia

Three European women from the protest group Femen have arrived home after their release from jail in Tunisia. They received suspended sentences for showing their bare breasts in public and were charged with indecency.

The three activists, held in the prison in Manouba in northeastern Tunisia until just before midnight, arrived back home on Thursday.

The 20-year-old German Josephine Markmann and French nationals Pauline Hillier and Marguerite Stern were on Wednesday handed suspended sentences of four month and one day for indecency after apologizing for their actions.

"I didn't think it was going to shock Tunisians to that extent. Given the consequences, I would never do it again. We want to return to our country and our loved ones," Pauline Hillier said at Wednesday's appeal court hearing.

Display of solidarity

The three activists were arrested in Tunis on May 29 during their topless protest in support of Tunisian activist Amina Sboui.

Sboui had made the headlines in March when she protested for women's rights by posting topless photos of herself online. On May 19, she was arrested for protesting against a planned gathering of radical Salafists in the town of Kairouan.

During their protest, the three European women were wearing nothing but skimpy shorts as they demonstrated outside the courthouse to demand the release of activist Amina Sboui, with slogans such as "Free Amina" and "Breasts feed revolution" written across their chests.

They were arrested for offending public morals and threatening public order and handed custodial sentences for an attack on public morals, which was criticized by the European Union as being too harsh.

Femen originated in Ukraine and has used nudity to push for greater rights for women across Europe.

The release of the activists comes ahead of a planned visit to Tunisia by French President Francois Hollande in July.

rg/slk (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)