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Gay 'prisoner of conscience' jailed for sending a text message dies in Cameroon

A lawyer says a gay man in Cameroon who was jailed for sending a text message to another man saying "I'm very much in love with you," and who Amnesty Interational later declared a prisoner of conscience, has died.

Lawyer Alice Nkom said Roger Jean-Claude Mbede, 34, died on Friday after his family removed him from the hospital where he had been seeking treatment for a hernia.

Mbede was arrested in March 2011 and charged with violating a Cameroonian law that imposes up to five years in prison for homosexual acts. According to Human Rights Watch, Cameroon brings more cases against suspected homosexuals than any other African country.

After receiving a three-year prison sentence, Mbede was released in July 2012 for medical reasons and had been in hiding since.