October 23, 2019

Two Al Jazeera journalists forced to leave Guinea

@YouTube/Aljazeera screenshot.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is concerned about the Guinean government’s evident desire to obstruct the work of foreign reporters after it stripped two visiting Al Jazeera journalists of their accreditation, forcing them to leave.

 Nicolas Haque, Al Jazeera bureau chief in Dakar, Senegal, and cameraman Hugo Bogaeert had gone to Guinea to do series of reports on political and economic developments. They had to leave after police detained them for several hours in Conakry, the capital, on 17 October, accusing them of spying and endangering state security.   

According to the information obtained by RSF, the High Authority for Communication (HAC) withdrew their accreditation on the grounds that they had originally requested permits for “coverage of mining areas, not reporting of an ethnocentric nature.”


The two journalists and their Guinean fixer were arrested while filming in the stadium where soldiers massacred scores of government opponents ten years ago, on 28 September 2009.


Haque told RSF that the authorities withdrew their accreditation after Al Jazeera broadcast one of his reports, which was about the current ethnic tension in Guinea. “It was our report that bothered them,” he said. He pointed out that the charges were dropped after several officials intervened, including President Alpha Condé.


“Withdrawing accreditation obstructs the freedom to inform,” said Assane Diagne, the director of RSF’s West Africa desk. “Rather than serving as an instrument for harassing the media, the HAC should ensure that journalists’ work is facilitated by refraining from any decision not based on the facts and the law.”


Guinea has seen a series of violent protests in recent weeks in response to calls from the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), which is opposed to President Condé’s desire to amend the constitution in order to run for a third term.


Guinea is ranked 107th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.