Newspaper suspended, journalists barred from working

New York, February 27, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists is troubled by the National Communications Council’s decision last Wednesday to suspend the private bimonthly Les Echos for two months and ban two of the newspaper’s journalists from working during that time.

The decision by the government-controlled council cited “the publication of false news and an attack on the honor and dignity” of a government minister, Kiridi Bangoura. Bangoura brought a complaint against the newspaper after it published an article in the February 20 edition accusing him of “becoming rich off the back of Guineans.”

In addition to suspending the paper, the council barred Publication Director Saliou Baldé and the article’s author, Sékou Traoré, from “creating any other news outlet under a different name or working for other media” for the duration of the suspension. Council Chairman Boubacar Yacine Diallo told CPJ that it had previously issued a warning to the newspaper for publishing articles about Bangoura. Baldé told CPJ that he would not appeal the decision.

“We are deeply concerned that Guinean authorities have unilaterally suspended this newspaper,” said Ann Cooper, executive director of CPJ. “Governments throughout the world provide sufficient means of addressing press grievances through civil litigation, not censorship.”

Few private papers circulate regularly in Guinea, where the government has still not fulfilled a 2005 promise to allow private broadcasting.