Journalist imprisoned

New York, November 5, 2003–Police officers in Equatorial Guinea arrested journalist Rodrigo Angue Nguema at his home in the capital, Malabo, on November 3. Angue Nguema works as a correspondent for the wire service Agence France-Presse (AFP), as well as several other foreign news organizations, and is one of the only independent journalists in the country. Angue Nguema is currently being held at the central police station in Malabo.

According to journalists outside the country who were able to speak to Angue Nguema during his detention, the journalist’s arrest stemmed from an article he wrote for AFP on October 29 detailing rumors of an attempted military coup in Equatorial Guinea. Government officials have said that the journalist was detained for questioning in an ongoing investigation into the origin of the rumors, AFP reported.

Equatorial Guinea has one of the most repressive media environments in Africa. The state press is dominated by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea. Private publications appear irregularly, and independent journalists are frequently harassed. Last year, in spite of having proper accreditation, Angue Nguema was twice barred from covering the controversial trial of 144 opposition supporters who had been charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government.

“We deplore this habitual disregard for press freedom,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We call on authorities to immediately release Angue Nguema, and to allow independent journalists to practice their profession without fear of reprisal.”