Mauritanian journalist re-arrested after argument with president

Mauritanian journalist re-arrested after argument with president
Abeh Lafdal accused the president of corruption, prompting a guard to hand the journalist to police officers.
2 min read
14 December, 2014
President Aziz came to power in a coup in 2008 [AFP]

Abeh Ould Mohammad Lafdal has been re-arrested only a few hours after his release on Sunday.

The Mauritanian journalist had been arrested a few days earlier following an argument with Mauritanian President Ould Abdul Aziz during a visit to the headquarters of the Tadamon agency on 9 December.

"A senior official in the presidential palace had objected to Lafdal's release, demanding his re-arrest and denying him any visits," said a source close to the journalist.

Lafdal was reportedly trying to give the president a file, when a guard stopped him, prompting the journalist to accuse the president and his government of corruption, and criticise the country's deteriorating situation under their rule.

     You have corrupted the country and bribery is widespread.
- Abeh Lafdal to President Aziz

"You have corrupted the country and bribery is widespread," yelled Lafdal, according to Mauritanian media.

"Get lost," Abdul Aziz is reported to have yelled back, seemingly giving the green light for his guards to take Lafdal to the police.

According to the Mauritanian al-Bayan news website [Ar], "a close source said that following prosecution orders, the police released Lafdal after a few days in detention over a lack of charges. The source added that Lafdal was re-arrested by the same presidential guard who took him to the police the first time after arguing with them over his release".

Lafdal manages the Mauritanian al-Layl newspaper and the independent news website Akhbar al-Watan [Ar].

"The Mauritanian president replied with offensive language to Lafdal's questions," reported the website. The site also raised questions about the morality of the supposedly highest rank in power.

It further mentioned that the police commissioner prevented Lafdal's colleagues and family from seeing him.

The website has launched a campaign for his release, saying "expressing opinions is not a crime".

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.