An investigative reporter and head of production at Bénin Web TV, Ignace Sossou has been held since 20 December. He is serving an 18-month prison sentence on a charge of “harassment by means of electronic communications” for tweeting statements that a prosecutor made at a workshop hosted by the French media development agency CFI that both Sossou and the prosecutor attended.
The video released today by RSF highlights the evidence of Sossou’s innocence by presenting the texts of his tweets together with the audio recordings of the prosecutor’s statements. It clearly shows that Sossou quoted the prosecutor accurately and that his tweets did not in any way constitute harassment.
Nonetheless, no judicial step has been taken to release Sossou and, worse still, no date has yet been set for the hearing of his appeal.
“Three months is enough,” said Assane Diagne, the director of RSF’s West Africa office. “The time has come to finally free Ignace Sossou, who just did his job by reporting statements that the public needed to know. “We are very concerned about this journalist’s fate because he continues to be held unjustly although the evidence of his innocence is publicly available. This video provides further irrefutable proof of this.”
RSF’s concern is widely shared in the region. More than 120 West African media outlets and journalists demanded Sossou’s release in an unprecedented, RSF-backed joint op-ed published on 13 March.
Benin is ranked 96th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.