Rabat – Mauritanian authorities expelled Seif Kousmate, a Moroccan-French photojournalist, after detaining him for more than three days for conducting research on slavery in the country.
The Paris-based NGO, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), noted that the authorities made the arrest on March 20, at the border with Senegal, “from where he had planned to take a flight back to Morocco.”
The reporter was placed in police headquarters in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania.
The authorities seized the journalist’s laptop and mobile phone and arbitrarily “detained him for three days in Nouakchott, interrogating him, inter alia about his links with Biram Dah Abeid, a former presidential candidate and leader of the anti-slavery movement, who he interviewed in the course of his reporting,” added the NGO.
The journalist was deported from Mauritania after “starting a hunger strike” on March 24, and arrived in Morocco’s Casablanca on the same date.
The NGO contacted the journalist, who he said “he was initially suspected of terrorism.”
The Mauritanian authorities returned the journalist’s phone and laptop, but would not release “several memory cards containing photos he had taken.”
The journalist, however, told RSF that he still have several photos to complete his research report.
In September 2017, Mauritania prevented twelve anti-slavery activists from entering Mauritania.
The activists work with the Chicago-based Abolition Institute, an organization campaigning against alleged slavery in Mauritania.
RSF wrote that a French freelance journalist, Tiphaine, was ordered to leave Mauritania or face detention for investigating slavery in the country in April 2017.