Radio station in Guinea raided, attacked

A radio station in the eastern Guinean city of Kankan was raided and attacked twice in three days in mid-August, according to news reports. At least three journalists reported being briefly detained.

Soldiers stormed the private Bate FM on August 16, 2013, and shut it down, citing the station’s live coverage of President Alpha Condé being booed at a political rally, according to news reports and the Ghana-based press freedom group Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA). Hundreds jeered Condé at the rally, accusing him of doing nothing for the development of the region, according to news reports, the reports said.

Moussa Diawara, the radio station’s managing director, told CPJ that the soldiers accused the station of “deliberately airing” footage of angry youth booing the president. Journalist Mamady Cissé was briefly detained, he said. Police also briefly detained and interrogated radio host Sorel Mady and Bate FM founder Moro Sidibé over the coverage, according to the Media Foundation’s report.

Diawara fled to Mali that day, saying he had been subjected to official intimidation and had received death threats, according to news reports.

The next day, Saloum Cissé, secretary-general of the ruling Rally of the Guinean People, publicly accused the private press of misinforming the public and twisting reality in coverage of the president’s appearance at the rally, according to local news reports. Cissé urged the president to take action against what he called “excesses of the press.”

On August 18, 2013, a group of assailants attacked the station and stole a generator, antennae, speakers, and other equipment, Agence France-Presse reported. Abdramane Senkoun Kaba, a journalist from the station, was assaulted in the process, Diawara told CPJ. Kaba was not injured.

The attack occurred while Bate FM was rebroadcasting a program of Diawara that had aired the week prior, according to local journalists. Diawara, in previous weeks, had produced call-in programs in which callers criticized the state over electricity and water shortages. Diawara had also reported on the alleged illegal sale of government-subsidized fertilizer, according to news reports.

Bate FM journalists said the attackers were supporters of the president and members of his party, according to AFP. Albert Damantang Camara, spokesman of the government, issued a press statement calling the assailants “vandals” and denying that they were members of the ruling party.

In a press statement, Human Rights and Public Liberties Minister Kalifa Gassama Diaby condemned the attack. The Union of Free Radio and Television Stations of Guinea, a local press union known as URTELGUI, also condemned the attack.

The station resumed broadcasting on August 20, 2013, according to local news reports.