Authorities urged to account for two journalists held incommunicado by intelligence agency
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||9 February 2010|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, Authorities urged to account for two journalists held incommunicado by intelligence agency, 9 February 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b7950cc1a.html [accessed 20 December 2014]|
Reporters Without Borders calls on National Security Chief Emmanuel Edou to immediately explain what has happened to two journalists, Simon Hervé Nko'o and Serge Sabouang, who were arrested by members of the General Directorate for External Investigation (DGRE), an intelligence agency, on 5 February. There has been no news of them since then.
"The unacceptable manner in which these two journalists have been arrested resembles the 'abductions' of journalists in Zimbabwe at the height of the repression orchestrated by Robert Mugabe," Reporters Without Borders said. "Such practices have no place in a country such as Cameroon which claims to respect the rule of law."
The press freedom organisation added: "The authorities must publicly state what offence these journalists are alleged to have committed and where they are being held. The journalists must also be allowed to communicate with their families."
It is believed that Nko'o, a reporter for the Douala-based weekly Bebela, and Sabouang, the editor of the fortnightly La Nation, are being held at DGRE headquarters in Yaoundé. When Nko'o was arrested, his home was searched from top to bottom and was ransacked shortly thereafter.
Bebela publisher Henriette Ekwé said Nko'o was arrested "because he had a document that is compromising for powerful people in Cameroon," adding that this included Laurent Esso, the secretary-general of the president's office. The document, about a questionable transaction, has been described by Esso as a fabrication designed to discredit him.
Agence France-Presse reported that, according to a local source who requested anonymity, the publishers of two other privately-owned newspapers, Bibi Ngota of the Cameroun Express and Robert Mintsa of Le Devoir, were also briefly detained in the same case on 5 February.
Four journalists - Ananie Bindzi, Alex Azebaze, Thierry Ngongang and Aboya Manassé - were meanwhile questioned today by the public prosecutor in connection with the comments they made on the STV programme "Cards on the Table" in June 2008 about judicial proceedings in an anti-corruption drive known as Operation Sparrowhawk.
The four journalists are facing up to three years in prison and fines of 5 million CFA francs. The case has been adjourned until 9 March because additional defence attorneys have been named.