Newspaper director charged with insult, false news

APRIL 20, 2006
Posted: May 1, 2006

Fortune Bemba, Thalassa


Bemba, director of the private Brazzaville-based weekly Thalassa, was arrested and charged with defamation, insulting the head of state, and “propagating false news,” according to the press freedom organization Journaliste en Danger (JED), which is based in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. Those charges are not criminal under Republic of Congo’s laws, JED reported. The charges stemmed from an article published in Thalassa accusing President Denis Sassou Nguesso of poisoning a retired general, Agence France-Presse (AFP) and JED reported. The Brazzaville prosecutor who brought the charges told AFP that the general had in fact died of a heart attack. Bemba was detained overnight before being released the following day on bail. His trial was scheduled to begin in May.