31 August 2007

Mauritania: Newspaper Journalist Assaulted By First Lady's Associates

press release

Reporters Without Borders calls for an investigation into a physical attack on Elvaka Ould Cheibany, the privately-owned daily "Nouakchott Info"'s correspondent in the northern city of Nouadhibou, by two members of First Lady Mint Boukhary's immediate entourage on 28 August 2007. The two men, Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Kebady and Noman Ould Noman, accosted Cheibany inside a car rental agency, asked him to step outside and then beat him up without giving any explanation. Cheibany thinks it may have been a reprisal for an article the week of 19 August about the First Lady's growing power and her run-ins with the press.

Cheibany is the second reporter to be assaulted in this manner in two weeks. Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Moghdad of Radio Mauritanie was beaten up by two of the Prime Minister's bodyguards on 16 August. His attempt to file a complaint was spurned by the state prosecutor, and an enquiry led by state inspector-general Ould Horma concluded that Moghdad was partially to blame. He was then reprimanded by Radio Mauritanie's director-general for taking part in several protests organised by the journalists union despite the inspector-general's conclusions. The Prime Minister's bodyguards were sentenced to 30 days in prison.

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