Director of independent weekly detained

MARCH 25, 2006
Posted April 19, 2006

Aboubacar Mchangama, L’Archipel


Mchangama, director of the independent weekly L’Archipel, was detained by paramilitary police, or gendarmes, for two days in the capital, Moroni, over an article detailing discontent among army officers. He was charged with “divulging military secrets,” according to the Panapress news agency.

A group of army officers brought a formal complaint against the journalist after an article published in L’Archipel in February reported that some officers had protested against favoritism at army staff headquarters, according to local media and a statement from the Association of Journalists from the Comoros Written Press (known by its French acronym, AJPE). In March, L’Archipel reported that the officers were punished for protesting.

“At the gendarmerie, no one questioned the truth of the facts or the content of the incriminating article,” Mchangama told Panapress. “They asked me to divulge my sources.” The journalist added that he had refused to do so.

It was not the first time that Mchangama was arrested for coverage of internal military affairs. In October 1999, he was detained and charged with publishing “false information” in connection with a report for L’Archipel about tense relations between the government and some members of the army. Comoros, which is made up of three main islands, has a history of military coups.