A British employee of Kyrgyzstan's biggest gold mine, detained by police after comparing a national dish to a horse penis, was told on Monday to leave the country within 24 hours for working without an official permit.

Michael Mcfeat posted a comment on Facebook saying that his Kyrgyz colleagues were queuing for their "special delicacy, the horse's penis" at New Year celebrations, sparking a brief strike at the Kumtor mine as well as calls for criminal prosecution.

The dish in question, chuchuk, is a sausage made from horse meat and intestines.

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Police detained Mcfeat on Sunday for questioning but the state security service only gave him a warning despite workers insisting that his actions constituted inciting hatred, a crime punishable by three to five years in prison.

A local court found that Mcfeat, who worked as a welder for a contractor at Kumtor, had no work permit and ruled that he must be deported within 24 hours.

The mine is at the center of a dispute between the government and Canada's Centerra Gold.