Four people have been imprisoned by a Dakar court Friday for sharing a doctored photo of President Macky Sall’s face superimposed on the body of a naked man via WhatsApp.
The three women and one man, all in their twenties, were imprisoned on Friday in Dakar after a judge charged them with sharing an offensive image and criminal conspiracy, Bassirou Sakho, the lawyer of one of the women told AFP.
According to local media, police are searching for a fifth person who is currently in The Gambia for allegedly sending the image via the messaging application.
Punishment in the West African country for sending offensive images ranges from one month to two years imprisonment with fines of up to 300,000 CFA francs ($515).
The arrests come as the country gears up for legislative elections on July 30, with the deadline for submitting candidates in the poll expiring earlier this week.
Rights group Amnesty International has condemned the arrests and the court verdict.
The woman, Ouleye Mané, who is a local journalist working for Touba TV was referred to the prosecutor’s office on Thursday, according to a source that prefers anonymity.
Talking to regional broadcaster West Africa Democracy Radio in Dakar, Amnesty International director in Senegal, Seidi Gassama said: “This is a concern for us. No one should be deprived of his or her liberty for just sharing a caricature of a president. In many countries, it is done. One can be sued to court, fined or warned but not arrested [or imprisoned]. This will promote media and political differences which is not good for our democracy” Gassama said.
Meanwhile, the identity of the fifth suspect believed to have fled to The Gambia, has not been disclosed.