Reporters Without Borders addressed an open letter yesterday to President Teodoro Obiang Nguema calling for the immediate release of Rodrigo Angue Nguema, the Malabo correspondent of Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Radio France Internationale (RFI), who has been held in the capital’s Black Beach prison since 17 June for getting his facts wrong in a report.
This is the letter:
Mr. Teodoro Obiang Nguema,
President of the Republic,
Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
Paris, 25 June 2009
Dear Mr. President
Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends press freedom worldwide, would like to express to you its deep concern about Rodrigo Angue Nguema, the Malabo correspondent of Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Radio France Internationale (RFI), who has been held for the past eight days.
As you know, Mr. Nguema wrote a dispatch for AFP and RFI in April in which he said the head of the national airline Ceiba, Mamadou Jaye, had embezzled 3.5 billion CFA francs (5 million euros) and skipped the country. When the information turned out to be wrong, Mr. Nguema recognised this and apologised. Mr. Jaye nonetheless brought a libel suit against Mr. Nguema, demanding 5 million euros in damages, the amount he was alleged to have embezzled.
Mr. Nguema was incarcerated in Black Beach prison on 17 July on the orders of Malabo investigating judge Agustin Chicampo because he was unable to post bail of 20 million CFA francs (30,000 euros). Since then, he has only been able to receive two visits from his wife. AFP and RFI say they have sent Mr. Nguema the money to pay the bail but there have been problems that have prevented the payment being made.
We obviously hope this is not a deliberate ploy by the authorities to keep this journalist in prison. We point out that Mr. Nguema has not been tried and no date has so far been set for his trial. Reporters Without Borders believes that his detention is arbitrary, unjust and incomprehensible and we urge you to arrange for his immediate release.
We trust you will give this request your careful consideration.