Melanio Nkogo and Ruben Bacale, who work for Asonga TV, Equatorial Guinea’s only privately-owned TV channel, have been held at police headquarters in Bata since 27 August. Neither the police nor any other officials have so far given any reason for their arrest.
But RSF has been told that the reason for their arrest may have been their interview with an investigating judge in Bata who criticized his recent suspension by the supreme court’s president.
Although Asonga TV is Equatorial Guinea’s only commercial TV channel, it is closely controlled by the regime because it is owned by Vice-President Teodorín Nguema Obiang, who is the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the country’s ruler for the past 40 years.
“These two journalists have been in police custody for much longer than the legally permitted period and there are no grounds for holding them because they were just doing their job,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.
“These arrests confirm the vulnerability of Equatorial Guinean journalists, who are exposed to the worst forms of intimidation as soon as they begin to stray from the editorial line demanded by the regime or by those close to it. We call on the authorities to release these journalists at once.”
Ramón Nse Ebalé, a cartoonist known for criticizing the president in his cartoons, spent nearly six months in detention last year on trumped-up charges of forgery and money laundering that were eventually dropped.
Equatorial Guinea is ranked 165th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.