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Mauritania president ‘says releasing blogger would cause chaos’

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has defended the continued detention of a blogger for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad, reports AFP news agency.

Blogger Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir
Blogger Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir

AFP quotes President Abdel Aziz as saying the detaining the blogger Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir was for “his personal security as well as the country’s.”

“We know that from the point of the view of the law, he should be freed, but for security reasons, we cannot place the life of more than four million Mauritanians at risk,” he said.

“Millions of Mauritanians took to the streets to demand his execution. His release would mean that chaos would be allowed to take root in the country,” he added.

Mr Mkheitir was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2014 but this was downgraded to two years in jail on appeal in 2017.

His lawyers have told AFP that he should have been released immediately, having spent four years behind bars, but is still in custody.

The president was speaking ahead of the presidential elections on Saturday, which he is not contesting. BBC News