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Journalist, publisher arrested over article on judicial corruption

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned the arrest of Mohamed Ould Abdelatif and Mohamed Nema Oumar, respectively journalist and publisher of 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 Abdelatif on 21 July 2008 and Oumar, who was in Kaedi, southern Mauritania, was arrested by police there and brought back to the capital.

Oumar wrote an article in edition number 98 of the newspaper reporting that a defence lawyer had paid the three judges 25 million ouguiyas (approx. 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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