Cameroonian author Patrice Nganang has had his custody extended by 48 hours by the authorities, his lawyer said on Tuesday, nearly a week after his arrest for publishing an article critical of the country’s president.
“His detention was extended (Monday) for 48 hours by the state prosecutor,” lawyer Emmanuel Simh told AFP, adding that Nganang would “in principle” appear before the prosecutor after its expiry.
Simh said the detention was “illegal” because Nganang was not initially notified he was being placed in custody.
Police say Nganang made an online death threat against President Paul Biya, but Cameroon writers and activists have called for his unconditional release.
Nganang, who teaches literature at New York University, published last Tuesday an opinion piece in French on the Jeune Afrique news site critical of Biya’s handling of the crisis in Cameroon’s restive anglophone regions.
He was arrested the next day after visiting an anglophone part of mainly French-speaking Cameroon, where tensions have been running high following a crackdown on a secession movement.
Sources said Nganang was in possession of two passports, one from Cameroon and one from the US, when he was arrested.
Local media reports said police maintain he should have forfeited his Cameroon document after taking out US nationality as his native country’s Constitution does not recognise dual nationality.
But many media outlets questioned how many Cameroonian leaders, as well as footballers and musicians, have two or more passports.
Nganang was arrested on his way to visit his wife in Zimbabwe, a security official said on condition of anonymity.