Press freedom in Mauritania is being questioned by international organizations as an imprisoned local journalist is being detained beyond his sentence without further charges.
Jailed Mauritanian journalist Hanevy Ould Dehah began a hunger strike last Sunday to protest what he and other journalists are calling his illegal detention in the capital, Nouakchott.
As a press-freedom program officer for the International Federation of Journalists' Africa Office, Libasse Hane says Mauritania's journalists union is staging sit-ins and protest marches against the detention.
Dehah was arrested in June for publishing material the courts deemed offensive, but was acquitted of libel and incitement to rebellion. He was sentenced to serve six months in prison on August 19 and fined. His sentence officially ended December 24.
His website, Taqadoumy, was critical of the coup in 2008, says Hane. The current president, General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, was behind that coup. General Aziz won presidential elections in July.
Hane says no additional charges have been brought against Dehah to warrant his continued detention.
Hane says that if Mauritania is not going to apply justice and the laws of the country, he fears this signals a period that will weigh heavily on not just journalists, but everyone who does anything contrary to the current rulers.