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Senegalese TV crew arrested, equipment seized

(MFWA/IFEX) - The Mauritanian police on August 15, 2011 arrested a crew from the privately-owned, Senegal-based TV station Africa 7 on international assignment in the country.

The crew, Ms. Fatim Cissé, Mansour and Alioune Fall Dieng, presenter, cameraman and driver respectively, and their local guide, Ms. Sow Fatimetou Deyna, a journalist, were picked up from their hotel and interrogated for nearly seven hours at a police station in Tevragh-Zeina, a suburb of Nouakchott , the capital.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that the crew's camera, video cassette recorder, and a computer were seized by the police. Their passports and press cards were also confiscated. The seized items were later returned to them without the video cassette recorder.

The correspondent said that Ms. Deyna told the media that the crew had been in the country since August 13 on an assignment that included interviewing Ahmed Ould Daddah, leader of the opposition Democratic Party and Boiam Ould Dah Ould Abeid, president of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement in Mauritania (IRA Mauritanie).

Mauritania has been in the international news since police clamped down on anti-slavery campaigners on August 4. The campaigners, who had besieged the offices of the Young Offenders and Crime Victims police unit over an alleged case of slavery involving a ten-year old girl, were violently dispersed by the police, resulting in several causalities. The police arrested nine of the campaigners on trumped-up charges of "belonging to an unrecognized organization", "unlawful assembly" and "challenging the authority of the police."

The authorities have accused the campaigners of disgracing the country by using slavery as a pretext to make money.

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