Update: Nouvellesdeguinee.com editor Mamadou Saliou Diallo was released yesterday, one day after RSF issued a press release condemning his detention for the past two weeks as illegal. “We welcome this decision and we now ask the authorities to lift the judicial control under which this journalist has been placed pending a court ruling on the substance of the justice minister’s defamation action against him,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.
The founder and editor of Nouvellesdeguinee.com, Diallo was arrested by the judicial police directorate on 19 June as a result of a defamation complaint by justice minister Cheick Sako over an article accusing Sako of taking bribes and obtaining an apartment in Spain in return for the award of the contract to build a new prison. The article was removed several hours after being posted online.
“Defamation is not punishable by imprisonment in Guinea so Mamadou Saliou Diallo’s detention is a flagrant violation of the 2010 press law,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “How can a justice minister let himself be responsible for a reporter’s illegal detention? Diallo must be freed at once, without waiting for a judicial decision on the substance of the case.”
In a statement issued on 20 June, the Guinean Online Press Association (AGUIPEL) called on the authorities to “respect procedures” and reminded them that “only the law on press freedom can be applied to journalists” accused of press offences.
The justice minister did not respond to RSF’s request for a comment.
After RSF published the latest World Press Freedom Index, in which Guinea fell three places to 104th positon, President Alpha Condé accused Guinea’s journalists of presenting an image of the country that “does not correspond to reality” and boasted that “no journalist has been arrested by the government.”