Ivory Coast police interrogate journalists over sources

Police in the economic capital of Abidjan summoned two journalists with the weekly L’Eléphant déchaîné on June 28, 2013, and interrogated them for more than six hours, Agence France-Presse reported, citing their lawyer.

Police questioned Wenceslas Assohou, editor-in-chief of L’Eléphant déchaîné, and Editor Valery Bony on the orders of Defense Minister Paul Koffi Koffi about “leaks of sensitive information regarding the security of Ivory Coast,” according to Assohou and the AFP report. The journalists had published a June 21, 2013, article in the paper that alleged the Ministry of Defense was 3.7 billion CFA francs (US$7.2 million) in debt to contractors hired to rebuild military infrastructure damaged or destroyed during the Ivorian post-election conflict in 2011. The article also said the Ministry of Finance had failed to provide the funds despite several requests from Minister Koffi.

The journalists’ defense lawyer, Emile Suy Bi Gohoré told AFP that the reporters were being questioned about copies of purported internal correspondences between Koffi and the finance minister that were reproduced in the article.

Koffi has not publicly commented on the allegations, L’Eléphant déchaîné General Manager Antoine Assalé Tiémoko told CPJ.

Assohou, who had written the story, told CPJ that they were released without charge, but could be summoned back at any time.