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Mauritania frees blogger sentenced to death over Facebook post


Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed Mkhaitir, a blogger sentenced to death in 2014 has been freed by authorities in Mauritania, press rights group Reporters Without Borders, RSF, have disclosed in a July 30, 2019 statement.

He was released at dawn of Monday (July 29), the statement added stressing that confessional posts on Facebook and TV had been key conditions for his release after over five-and-half years in jail.

Mkhaitir, was initially sentenced to death in 2014 over social media (Facebook) posts but on appeal, a court in November 2017 commuted the sentence to two years in jail – which he had already served.

He was not, however, immediately released because of a groundswell of protests for his execution. The authorities continued to detain him citing security reasons.

His contentious posts had criticized the state’s use of religion (Islam) to perpetrate discriminatory practices against a minority section of the society, the Moulamines / blacksmith caste – to which he belonged.

His particular case was the subject of a sustained campaign by RSF and other press freedom outlets across Africa and the world.

“When contacted by RSF after his release, Mkhaitir thanked all the organizations who have been campaigning on his behalf ever since his arrest in January 2014,” the group said.

“We are deeply relieved that he has finally been freed after being held for more than five and a half years in almost total isolation,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

“For nothing more than a social network post, he was subjected to a terrible ordeal that violated a decision by his own country’s judicial system.

“This blogger was francophone Africa’s longest-held citizen-journalist. We thank all those who contributed to his release.”

His release is one of the most significant actions of outgoing president Mohamed Ould Abdul Aziz who leaves office on Wednesday August 1 as his Defence Minister and chosen successor, Mohamed Ould Al Ghouzani, takes over.

Trump sends rep to August 1 investiture of new Mauritania president https://t.co/YwmSuV4onY

— africanews (@africanews) July 30, 2019

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