Mauritanian journalist on hunger strike

Mauritanian journalist Hanefi Ould Dehah has reportedly begun a hunger strike in protest at his continued detention after completing a jail sentence.

Ould Dehah, editor of the Taqadoumy news website, was serving six months for "indecency" but since his sentence expired on 24 December the authorities have failed to release him. Members of the Mauritanian journalists' union held a demonstration in his support on Monday.

He was arrested after former presidential candidate Ibrahima Moctar Sarr accused him of defamation over an article alleging that Sarr used campaign funds to buy a villa.

At his trial, Ould Dehah was cleared of the defamation charge, as well as "incitement to rebellion" and "incitement to commit crimes and misdemeanours". However, he was convicted of "offending public decency" in connection with a page on Taqadoumy's website which discussed morality and sex education. 

The Ould Dedah campaign has a Facebook page.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 29 December 2009.