“Without your efforts, I would not have been released!” Freed blogger tells Amnesty supporters
There was good news from Mauritania on July 29 when blogger Mohamed Mkhaïtir was freed after five years in prison.
Mohamed was arrested in January 2014 after he published a blog that discussed slavery and discrimination, including discrimination against the blacksmith caste to which Mohamed belongs. For this he was sentenced to death in December 2014.
Amnesty International members spoke out against the outrageous sentence and demanded that the authorities quash the death penalty and free Mohamed.
Finally, in November 2017, an appeal court overturned the death penalty and ordered Mohamed’s release. But the injustice against Mohamed was not yet over. The Mauritanian authorities continued to detain him. He had no access to his lawyers and only limited contact with his family. He spent most of the five years in solitary confinement.
After his release last week, Mohamed immediately went to Senegal for safety reasons, and then on to Europe. He was able to meet with Amnesty staff and he thanked Amnesty supporters for their relentless campaigning.
“Without your efforts, I would not have been released,” he said. “During five years in prison, I just saw the sun six times.”
Mohamed continued: “So much has changed over the past five years and I am still adjusting to life outside of prison. Now I am free, my hope is to resume my education and return to school.”
Amnesty is now calling on Mauritania’s new president, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, to ensure that what happened to Mohamed must never happen to anyone else in Mauritania. No one should be detained and charged—let alone sentenced to death—simply for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Image: © Marta Abola/Amnesty International