A sign depicting President Alpha Conde during his reelection campaign is seen in Conakry, Guinea, on October 12, 2020. Journalist Amadou Diouldé Diallo has been detained for allegedly insulting the president. (AFP/John Wessels)

Guinea journalist Amadou Diouldé Diallo detained in hospital over alleged insults to president

Dakar, March 24, 2021 — Guinean authorities should immediately release journalist Amadou Diouldé Diallo and ensure that the press can work without fear of reprisal, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On February 27, police officers arrested Diallo, a sports reporter with Guinea’s public broadcaster Radio Télévision Guinéenne (RTG) and a political commentator on other stations, while he was exercising at a stadium in Conakry, the capital, according to the journalist’s lawyer, Alseny Aissata Diallo, who spoke to CPJ over the phone.

Officers took Diallo to the Directorate of Judicial Police, where he was held until March 1, when he appeared before a prosecutor at a Conakry court and was accused of insulting President Alpha Condé, according to local media reports and the journalist’s lawyer.

On March 2, the journalist fainted while in detention at the courthouse and was taken to the rheumatology department of a local hospital; his lawyer told CPJ that he remains hospitalized and is still technically under detention while his case proceeds through the court.

If convicted under Article 105 of Guinea’s 2010 press law, which pertains to insulting the president, Diallo could face a fine of 1 to 5 million Guinean francs (US $100-500).

“Authorities in Guinea should free journalist Amadou Diouldé Diallo immediately and halt efforts to prosecute him,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in New York. “Diallo’s arrest and detention, let alone his continued harassment while hospitalized, promotes an atmosphere of fear and is a flagrant violation of the rights of a free press.”

Diallo regularly appears on “Eye of Lynx,” a daily morning politics radio program, according to Boubacar Algassimou Diallo, also known as Abou Bakr, the program’s co-host and director of Lynx Radio, the privately owned company that broadcasts that program, who CPJ spoke over the phone.

During an “Eye of Lynx” broadcast on January 21, Diallo “expressed his opinion on how he believes the government is mismanaging the country,” Abou Bakr told CPJ.

“Everything he said is verified, it is the fact of having said it that hurts,” his lawyer said. He added that the journalist’s legal team challenged Diallo’s detention and petitioned for his release, but both efforts were rejected.

“We have filed an appeal of this [rejection] decision and are awaiting the hearings,” the lawyer told CPJ. He told CPJ today that a lawyer representing the court is scheduled to visit the journalist at the hospital tomorrow.

On March 22, CPJ called Sidy Souleymane Ndiaye, the prosecutor of the case against Diallo, but he said he was driving and unable to speak. CPJ sent multiple text messages to Ndiaye seeking comment, but did not receive any replies.

Previously, in August 2019, Abu Bakr and Lynx Radio’s founder, Souleymane Diallo, were both charged with complicity in an attempt to undermine the internal security of the state under Guinea’s cybercrime law over comments critical of the country’s government by an activist on the same “Eye of Lynx” program, according to Abou Bakr and media reports.

The cybercrime law was used to prosecute the journalists because the activist was based in the United States and spoke on the program via phone, Abu Bakr said. He told CPJ that both men were placed under judicial control, meaning they were barred from leaving the capital and had to check in with court three days a week.

Abu Bakr and Souleymane Diallo spent several weeks under judicial control; in September 2019 they won their appeal and the restrictions were lifted, Abu Bakr said.