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Burkina Faso9 November 2004

Opposition newspaper editor held incommunicado for the past four days

Reporters Without Borders today called on the Burkina Faso police to announce the charges against Mathieu N’Do, the editor of the weekly San Finna and one of the leaders of the opposition National Union for Democracy and Development (UNDD), who has been held incommunicado at a special police centre since his arrest on 5 November at Ouagadougou airport

"This journalist is a leading member of the opposition, but if he was arrested because of his articles, we must condemn this abuse of authority by the security ministry," the organisation said. "If not, we call on the government to make this known and, whatever the charges against N’Do, to grant him the right to legal defence in accordance with the law."

N’Do appears to have been detained on the orders of the police high command on his arrival at Ouagadougou airport from Abidjan at 3 p.m. on 5 November. He had just spent two weeks in Ivory Coast, from where he sent his newspaper several dispatches.

He was taken from the airport to the "Sector 28" police camp, where he is still being held and where he has not been allowed to contact his family or his lawyer. The staff of his newspaper said they tried to send him food, clean clothes, a towel and soap, but the police agreed only to take the food and the soap, without giving any explanation.

Reached several times by Reporters Without Borders, police headquarters refused to explain why N’Do was arrested or why he is being held incommunicado. Staff at the offices of both the attorney-general and state prosecutor said they had nothing to do with N’Do’s arrest, which was solely the responsibility of the security ministry.

Known both for being a critical journalist as well as an opposition leader, N’Do has been detained in the past. His family assumes his latest arrest is linked to that of UNDD president Hermann Yaméogo, a lawyer and member of parliament.

Yaméogo was detained as he got off a plane from Abidjan on 29 September and, along with UNDD activist Noël Yaméogo, was questioned for several hours by police. Earlier that day, security minister Djibril Bassolé had said in an interview that Burkina Faso was the victim of a "plot" in which "illustrious" citizens were accomplices.

Bassolé alleged that the accomplices included Hermann Yaméogo, who along with others, was "traipsing around certain capitals trying to sell information about supposed training camps operated by foreign putschists" in Burkina Faso. The recipients of this information included Reporters Without Borders, the minister claimed. Reporters Without Borders has denied this.

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