RSF restores access to popular news site in Guinea
After Guinea’s citizens spent two weeks without being able to read the news on the popular Guinée Matin news website, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) restored access by creating a mirror site under its Operation Collateral Freedom.
The inability to access Guinée Matin, without any explanation, deprived Guinean citizens of their right to access news and information for two weeks. We are pleased to have been able to make it accessible again without needing to use a VPN. This sends a strong signal to media freedom detractors.
Guinée Matin founder and editor Nouhou Baldé told RSF he had no explanation for the site’s sudden inaccessibility. “We have not published any particularly critical article or opinion piece of late. But everyone in Guinea knows that that Guinée Matin is a freely reported and independent newspaper. What scares me is that this could also happen to other news sites.” He added that creating the mirror site helped not only Guinée Matin but also, symbolically, “all Guinean media outlets”.
On 28 August, the Guinean Online Press Association (AGUIPEL) filed a judicial complaint accusing persons unknown of interrupting Internet services, and sent a letter to the president of the Guinean media regulator, the High Authority for Communication (HAC), asking it to take “urgent steps” to restore access. The HAC’s president responded by asking the head of the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ARPT) to “help find an appropriate solution to this situation".
Access to the Guinée Matin website was already interrupted in May, during a wave of opposition protests and calls for protests against Guinea’s military junta. Access was restored after a “Day without Media” protest on 23 May in which media outlets suspended service to denounce the many press freedom violations during the previous ten days.
Other news sites suffered a similar fate in May. For more than a week, social media such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and TikTok were cut, Internet access was restricted and some radio stations were jammed, in what was the biggest clampdown on press freedom since the military seized power in a coup in September 2021.