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Mauritania19 August 2008

Two journalists conditionally freed

Mohamed Abdellatif, publisher of the privately-owned weekly paper Al Houriya, and one of his reporters, Mohamed Nema Oumar, were conditionally released by the Nouakchott appeals court on 17 August. They were arrested and imprisoned on 21 July.


31.07 - Journalists stage protest in support of colleagues held since 21 July

Around 30 journalists demonstrated outside the main lawcourt building in Nouakchott yesterday morning to protest against the way two detained colleagues - Nema Mohamed Omar and Mohamed Abdelatif of the Al Houriya newspaper - are being treated to demand that they be brought before a criminal court.

With their hands and ankles manacled, Oumar and Abdelatif were brought before an investigating judge half an hour after the protest.

Oumar and Abdelatif have been on hunger strike since 28 July to protest against their conditions of detention and to demand that their case be transferred to a criminal court handling non-political cases.


28.07 - Newspaper publisher held for past week is rushed to hospital

Mohamed Ould Abdelatif, the detained publisher of the Arabic-language weekly Al Houriya, was transferred to Nouakchott’s national hospital last weekend. The newspaper said he has a lung problem that was aggravated by the mistreatment to which he was subjected in a police station with the aim of making him name the sources for a report about three judges. Abdelatif and one of the newspaper’s reporters were arrested on 21 July.


24.07 - Two journalists charges with defaming judges

Mohamed Abdellatif, the publisher of the Arabic-language weekly Al Hurriya, and Nema Mohamed Omar, one of his reporters, were charged yesterday in Nouakchott with defaming and insulting three judges. They have been detained since 21 July.

The charges are punishable under the criminal code by one to five years in prison and a fine of 15,000 ouguiyas (65 euros). The press law provides for a fine of up to 10 million ouguiyas (43,000 euros). The authorities have reportedly mistreated Abdellatif in an attempt to make him name his sources.


22.07 - A journalist and publisher arrested for accusing judges of corruption

Mohamed Abdellatif, the publisher of the Arabic-language weekly Al Hurriya, and Nema Mohamed Omar, one of his reporters, were charged yesterday in Nouakchott with defaming and insulting three judges. They have been detained since 21 July.

The charges are punishable under the criminal code by one to five years in prison and a fine of 15,000 ouguiyas (65 euros). The press law provides for a fine of up to 10 million ouguiyas (43,000 euros). The authorities have reportedly mistreated Abdellatif in an attempt to make him name his sources.

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the arrest of Mohamed Ould Abdelatif and Mohamed Nema Oumar, respectively journalist and publisher on the privately-owned Arabic-language weekly al-Hurriya in connection with a “defamation” complaint from three judges at the criminal appeal court.

The judicial police in Nouakchott arrested the journalist yesterday, and Oumar, who was in Kaedi, southern Mauritania was arrested by police there and brought back to the capital.

Nema Oumar wrote an article in edition number 98 of the newspaper reporting that a defence lawyer had paid the three judges 25 million Ouguiyas (68,650 euros) to release a businessman and a police officer accused of drug-trafficking. He went on to say that the three judges “are known for their great experience of corruption”.

“The systematic imprisonment of journalists involved in press cases must stop,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “We urge the Mauritanian justice system to apply more measured responses to defamation proceedings, by allowing the media regulatory body to do its work first”, it added.



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