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NEW YORK (AP) — A Cameroonian-American writer detained as he tried to leave the Central African nation is facing charges over writings critical of its government, and family and friends are calling for public support in a campaign for his release.

Patrice Nganang, a professor at New York's Stony Brook University, is due to go before a prosecutor in the coming week, according to an account from his wife that was sent to fellow Stony Brook professor Robert Harvey. Nganang was detained on Thursday as he was trying to leave Cameroon to join his wife in Zimbabwe.

Nganang and his attorney were informed of the charges against him at a hearing with judiciary police and were told the charges include accusations of insulting Cameroon President Paul Biya and issuing a death threat.

Nganang has been critical of how Biya, in power since 1982, has handled a secessionist movement in some English-speaking areas. He wrote an article that was published shortly before he was detained.

At the judiciary police hearing Saturday, Nganang's lawyer said he didn't represent a threat because he had never worked with any violent or armed groups and had always been a peaceful activist. A prosecutor will decide what happens with the case moving forward.

Nganang's supporters called for an outpouring of support for him, suggesting actions including calling the Cameroon embassy to demand his release; getting in touch with the U.S. Department of State and federal elected officials; reaching out to advocates like Amnesty International or the Committee to Protect Journalists; and spreading the campaign through social media.

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