Mauritanian editor gets second prison term on same charge

New York, February 8, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists is outraged by a second prison sentence given to Hanevy Ould Dehah, editor of the online publication Taqadoumy, and calls on the Mauritanian judiciary to reverse the verdict on appeal. 

The criminal chamber of the appellate court presided over by judge Mohamed Moctar Ould Fkih sentenced Ould Dehah on February 2 to a two-year prison term for committing acts “contrary to Islam and decent behavior,” his lawyer, Ibrahim Ould Ebety, told CPJ. Ould Dehah was held in prison illegally after he completed a six-month sentence on the same charge, but the Supreme Court ruled that he be retried, citing procedural flaws in the first trial. Ould Dehah’s defense team will be filing an appeal with the country’s Supreme Court in the coming days, Ould Ebety told CPJ.

“We call on President Ould Abdel Aziz to release Hanevy Ould Dehah immediately while his case is appealed,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ program coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa. “We also call on the appeals court to overturn this politically motivated charge.”

Taqadoumy has reported critically on the military junta that ruled the country from August 2008 until August 2009, and its leader, Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who has since been elected president. A court order in March led to the site being partially blocked for a brief time.

“This trial is a scandalous violation of the law,” Ould Ebety told CPJ. “It is bad enough that the first prison sentence was not rooted in law, because of the absence of provisions regulating online expression, but to retry my client and sentence him to another term is incomprehensible. This decision further proves the politically motivated nature of this case.”