Journalist released from police detention

New York, November 12, 2003–Independent journalist Rodrigo Angue Nguema was released yesterday evening after spending eight days in police custody in Equatorial Guinea’s capital, Malabo. 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.

Police arrested Angue Nguema on November 3, after an article he wrote for AFP detailed rumors of an attempted military coup in Equatorial Guinea. Government officials said that the journalist was detained for questioning in an ongoing investigation into the origin of the rumors, AFP reported.

Angue Nguema is still being monitored by the authorities and fears that the government could pursue legal action against him, said his colleagues at AFP.

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 welcome Rodrigo Angue Nguema’s release from detention, but he should never have been arrested in the first place,” said Ann Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “We call on the authorities in Equatorial Guinea to ensure that journalists are never imprisoned for their work.”