Ghana detains writer for allegations regarding president

Officers of the Bureau of National Investigation, Ghana’s national security agency, arrested Ghanaian-Lebanese columnist and author Fadi Dabbousi on September 23, 2016, upon his arrival from Lebanon at Kotoka International Airport, according to news reports.

Dabbousi is a fierce critic of President John Mahama and known supporter of main opposition presidential candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in elections scheduled for December 7, according to reports. Felix Kwakye Ofosu, Ghana’s deputy minister of communications, said Dabbousi’s arrest was lawful and unconnected to his political affiliation with the opposition, news reports said.

“He was arrested for these specific allegations relating to the suitability of the president to continue in the office that he is holding, and it is a security matter. There is no person or security in this world that would sit aloof,” Ofosu said.

Hassan Tampuli, a lawyer to Dabbousi, said Dabbousi’s arrest was politically motivated. Tampuli, in an interview with GhanaWebTV said the BNI detained Dabbousi, without charge or access to his lawyer or family, over articles Dabbousi had published on the news website Ghanaweb, citing the Catalyst and AlHajj newspapers, that suggested president John Mahama had impregnated the daughter of a chieftain and questioned whether Mahama had HIV/AIDS, according to media reports.

“Fadi sourced his information from the Catalyst newspaper and from the AlHajj newspaper. Now if Fadi had to be invited to the BNI to speak to matters like that, then I believe it will be in order to have the editors of those newspapers accompanying him. So the fact that those other people were not invited, in a way, will suggest that this is something that has to do with politics,” Tampuli said.

Dabbousi, who went on hunger strike during his detention, was released minutes before midnight on September 25. Pressure groups had planned a protest outside BNI’s office to demand his release, news reports said. The BNI returned copies of Dabbousi’s book, titled 59 Years to Nowhere: The Future Is Now, which were seized from Dabbousi’s house when he was arrested, the reports said.

Dabbousi said the BNI did not maltreat him in custody. The BNI ordered him to report to BNI on September 30, according to reports.