French lawyer for Senegal opposition leader imprisoned in Dakar

FILE PHOTO: Protests hit Senegal as opposition leader Sonko detained
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DAKAR (Reuters) - Juan Branco, a French lawyer for Senegalese opposition politician Ousmane Sonko, is in custody in Dakar on terrorism, conspiracy and public order charges, among others, his lawyer told Reuters on Sunday.

He was arrested in Mauritania and extradited to Senegal on Saturday, his lawyer said. Branco is part of the team defending Sonko, who was detained in late July.

Sonko was charged with plotting an insurrection, criminal conspiracy and other offences, two months after his trial for rape sparked deadly riots across Senegal.

Senegalese authorities issued an arrest warrant for Branco last month after he made a surprise appearance at a news conference by Sonko's legal team in Dakar in late July, according to French newspaper Le Monde. He then went to Mauritania.

"Juan Branco is for now in the hands of an elite police unit," Senegalese Interior Minister Antoine Felix Abdoulaye Diome said on Sunday.

"These legal proceedings are meant to silence a lawyer," Branco's lawyer Robin Binsard told Reuters.

Bamba Cisse, a member of Sonko's legal team, told Reuters that all they were asking was for his rights to be protected.

(Reporting by Diadie Ba in Dakar, Juliette Jabkhiro and Kate Entringer in Paris, editing by Giles Elgood)