Journalist abducted by suspected security agents

MARCH 3, 2008
Posted March 28, 2008

Jacques Blaise Mvié, La Nouvelle PresseKIDNAPPED

Director Jacques Blaise Mvié of the private weekly La Nouvelle Presse told CPJ an unidentified man in plain clothes jumped from a gray Toyota Prado 4 x 4 and forced him at gunpoint in the car as he was walking away from his residence before noon. The man and three other kidnappers threw the journalist face down on the back seatwell of the vehicle and drove him to an unknown location, Mvié said.

According to his own account, Mvié was kept in a comfortable room for two days, fed canned food and bread, and simply told to await “the boss,” he said. He was dumped in a ditch after two days in custody, according to local journalists.

Journalists of La Nouvelle Presse told CPJ they saw the men in plain clothes aboard two vehicles with army license plates, including the gray 4 x 4, outside their offices shortly before the kidnapping. One of the passengers carried in his hand two editions of their paper with stories critical of the leadership of the defense ministry, they said. The February 27 edition of the paper for instance carried a frontpage story headlined “The Real Mastermind of the Coup Attempt, a Sorcerer’s Apprentice Unmasked” with a photo of Defense Minister Rémy Ze Meka, according to Editor in Chief Charles Nwé.

In a telephone interview with CPJ, the chief of the Military Security Division, Lt. Col. Gedeon Youssa, not only denied his agency’s involvement in the kidnapping, but accused Mvié of “staging” his own disappearance.

A day after his release, Youssa had Mvié picked up by security agents and questioned for seven hours over the kidnapping, the official confirmed. Editor in Chief Junior Binyam of leading daily Mutations who was present at the scene of the arrest, said the agents picked up Mvié as he was giving media interviews about his ordeal. Mvié was again questioned the next day at the gendarmerie about three stories critical of the defense ministry leadership,