Anti-government activist released in Gabon after 17 months

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An anti-government activist who made videos that were deemed hostile to Gabonese President Ali Bongo was released on Tuesday after being held for 17 months, his lawyer said.

Herve Mombo Kinga, who was arrested on August 31, 2017, over a number of video clips he showed in a public place, was released in the early afternoon after the judge threw out the case, his lawyer Anges Kevin Nzigou told AFP.

Mombo Kinga was charged with spreading “propaganda aimed at disturbing the public order” and “insulting the president” over the “videos and messages encouraging an uprising against the State, (and spreading) hatred and disunity,” the prosecution said at the time.

At his first appearance in court last Monday, prosecutors sought an eight-year prison term with three years suspended for Mombo Kinga.

On the day of Mombo Kinga’s arrest, around 15 opposition activists were detained on the sidelines of a protest to mark exactly a year since Bongo’s disputed re-election in the oil-rich West African state.

Mombo Kinga is a known supporter of Gabonese opposition leader Jean Ping, who lost the August 2016 presidential election to Bongo by a very slim margin, in a result he denounced as fraudulent.

The results sparked a wave of violent protest in which dozens died.