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Website editor gets six months in prison for "offending public decency"

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the six-month jail sentence which a Nouakchott court passed on 19 August 2009 on Hanevy Ould Dehah, the editor of the website Taqadoumy, on a charge of "offending public decency." Dehah has been held for the past two months in Dart Naim prison.

"The sole aim of this disproportionate sentence is to restore the reputation of Ibrahima Moctar Sarr, a politician whose financial dealings Dehah examined," Reporters Without Borders said. "We hope this verdict is overturned on appeal and Dehah is soon released."

Reporters Without Borders has obtained a copy of the court's verdict. While finding Dehah guilty on the public decency charge, the court acquitted him on charges of defamation, inciting rebellion and inciting crimes and offences "because of the absence of enforceable laws applicable to electronic media offences."

As well as sentencing him to six months in prison, the court fined him 30,000 ouguiyas (approx. 83 euros) and ordered him to pay another 21,000 ouguiyas (approx. 59 euros) in legal costs. He has appealed.

Dehah was arrested on the orders of the Nouakchott prosecutor's office on 18 June as a result of a complaint by Sarr, a presidential candidate and head of the opposition Alliance for Justice and Democracy/Movement for Renovation (AJD/MR), over an article posted on Taqadoumy on 22 April.

Headlined "Ibrahima Sarr's sudden fortune," it referred to "the purchase by Mr. Sarr of a villa costing 30 million ouguiyas on the Nouadhibou road in an area known as 'university lands,' one of the capital's most elegant neighbourhoods." Sarr and his family described the article as "defamatory and baseless."

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