French Woman Detained in Senegal Released and Expelled to Paris

Afaf Fahchouch
Afaf Fahchouch
3 Min Read
French Woman Detained in Senegal Released and Expelled to Paris

Coline Fay, a 26-year-old French woman who had been incarcerated in Senegal since mid-November for participating in a demonstration supporting opposition figure Ousmane Sonko, has been released and deported back to France. She arrived in Paris on Friday, marking the end of a two-month ordeal.

Confirmation of her release came from her legal representatives, with attorney Me Cheikh Koureyssi Ba stating, “Coline Fay has been deported, the judge himself informed me.” Another French lawyer, Me Juan Branco, and Coline Fay’s brother, Antonin Fay, also verified the information, expressing relief at her safe return.

Coline Fay faced charges including “conspiracy against the authority of the State” and “acts or maneuvers likely to compromise public security.” Last week, she was additionally charged with “attempted irregular exit of correspondence.”

Describing the charges as “bordering on the ridiculous,” Me Ba expressed a sense of relief, stating, “It’s a sigh of relief.” He clarified that she is under the responsibility of law enforcement until her arrival in France, though without the presence of her lawyers.

Coline Fay, known for her involvement with the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion during her studies in Spain, had been working as a physiotherapist in a center for pregnant women in Senegal. Me Ba remarked, “She is in good spirits. She’s a resilient young woman.”

Since her incarceration, supporters organized several gatherings in Grenoble, France, her hometown. Former Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna was called to address the matter in a letter from Coline Fay’s lawyer, Juan Branco, along with legislators Aurélien Taché and Sophia Chikirou. The French government urged Senegalese authorities to expedite Fay’s case.

Coline Fay’s legal team also represents the imprisoned Senegalese opposition figure Ousmane Sonko. Convicted in June on charges of debauchery of a minor and sentenced to two years in prison, Sonko was detained in July on additional charges, including incitement to insurrection and association with a terrorist enterprise, which he claims are part of a plot to prevent his participation in the February 2024 presidential election—a charge the government denies.

In early January, the Senegalese Constitutional Council rejected Ousmane Sonko’s file, deeming it incomplete. Despite facing challenges, Sonko’s camp has submitted an appeal. Ousmane Sonko, a central figure in a prolonged power struggle with the state, was considered a frontrunner in the presidential race.


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