Angola: Jailed editor’s family in dire financial need

New York, March 7, 2000 — The family of jailed journalist Andre Domingos Mussamo are suffering dire financial need as a result of his prolonged incarceration, according to an appeal received by CPJ on March 3. Their telephone service has been cut off, and authorities have confiscated many of their possessions.

Under Angola’s notorious state security law (Law 7/78), suspects can be detained for up to 45 days without charge. Over 90 days have now elapsed since police arrested Mussamo in N’Dalatando, the capital of Angola’s Cuanza Norte Province.

Mussamo is chief editor of the Cuanza Norte branch of Angolan National Radio and correspondent for the independent biweekly newspaper Folha 8. He was taken into custody on December 2, 1999, because of a Folha 8 article in which he referred to a confidential letter written by the provincial governor to Angolan president José Eduardo Dos Santos. Mussamo apparently saw the letter on the governor’s desk during a visit to his office. CPJ has been unable to ascertain the subject of the letter.

A local source who visited Mussamo in prison told CPJ that police accused the editor of a “crime against state security,” under Law 7/78. Mussamo’s article was written in September, but never published. It is unclear how the police learned about its contents. According to a report by the Media Institute of Southern Africa, however, an agent of the security services searched Mussamo’s desk at work, and found an old draft of the article.

No date has yet been set for a trial, and it remains unclear whether Mussamo has even been formally charged. Sources in Angola also report that Mussamo is not receiving adequate medical treatment for serious injuries sustained in a car accident before his detention, and that prison authorities have reduced the number of visits allowed by his wife.