Lomé, Togo, December 8, 2017–Cameroonian authorities detained Patrice Nganang, a Cameroonian-American academic and columnist, as he attempted to fly to Zimbabwe from Douala on December 6, according to his lawyer and media reports. The lawyer, Emmanuel Simh, told CPJ that Nganang is being held in Yaoundé on accusations of offending the president in a Facebook post. Authorities confiscated the journalist’s phone and he was not granted access to legal counsel until today, Simh said.
“The detention of Patrice Nganang is an outrage and Cameroonian authorities must immediately release him without charge and allow him to travel,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal from South Africa. “Cameroon seems intent on violating the right to freedom of expression to silence critical voices, including in the press.”
Nganang’s arrest came a day after he published a critical column in the France-based news magazine Jeune Afrique, that criticized President Paul Biya’s handling of unrest in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions. Nganang, a professor at the U.S. Stony Brook University and contributing columnist for Jeune Afrique, visited the regions affected by protests, according to a statement by the African Literature Association and media reports.