A Chadian journalist got a two-year suspended prison sentence and was ordered to pay a fine for challenging his country’s regime.

Behind bars since May 7, Avenir Moussey De la Tchire, the managing editor of Abba Garde, was arrested for publishing articles criticizing Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno and his government.

President Idriss Deby Itno came to power in a 1990 coup after ousting Hissene Habre, a man he had helped bring to power. More than 20 years on, it is Deby whose regime is in peril from Chadian and Sudanese coups and insurgencies.

In fact, Moussey is one of three journalists imprisoned in what Deby’s regime calls another coup.

Less than two weeks before Moussey’s trial, the secretary-general of the Union of Chadian Journalists (UCJ), Eric Topona, and a political blogger, Jean Laokole, were also sentenced to suspended prison terms of three years for “defamation and unsuccessfully plotting to disrupt public order.” The sentence was announced despite a 2010 media law reform that abolished prison sentences for defamation and insult in favor of hefty fines.

Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, sent a letter to President Idriss Deby Itno urging him to release journalists being held for seditious publications. “Critics are not traitors,” Simon said. “And public officials should not be immune from criticism from the people they serve.”

The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has also launched a petition to obtain the release of the three journalists.