Reporters Without Borders today condemned yesterday’s arrest and overnight detention of a Mauritanian journalist working for an Iranian Arabic-language TV news station when he tried to enter Uganda from Kenya as part of his coverage of an African tour by Iranian President Mohammed Khatami.
After detaining Mohammed Abdullah Ould Memmine of Al-Alam television on his arrival yesterday in his car at the border town of Busia, the Ugandan authorities took his money and held him overnight in a cell.
"It is not normal that a journalist should be manhandled and treated like a terrorist just because he works for an Arabic-language news organisation," Reporters Without Borders said.
"The attitude of the Ugandan authorities betrays a feeling of impunity and shows that, despite the recent decriminalization of press offences, vigilance remains the order of the day in this country," the press freedom organisation added.
Reached by telephone, Memmine told Reporters Without Borders that the customs officials refused to let him into Uganda and stamped an entry ban in his passport. After asking him for money, they searched his car and took some 3,000 dollars and 400 euros. Memmine had to spend the night in very small cell with ordinary detainees.
He has been working for Al-Alam since October 2003 and was covering the Iranian president’s tour of seven African countries (Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Mali, Benin, Zimbabwe and Uganda).