Reporters Without Borders expressed relief today at the release on 19 February of the editor of the independent weekly La Lance, Mohamed Lamine Diallo (also known as Benn Pépito), who was secretly detained for three days in connection with his reporting about an opposition leader wanted by the authorities.
"We welcome Benn Pépito’s release but we continue to be concerned about violations of the confidentiality of journalists’ sources in Guinea," the press freedom organization said. "Even when state security is involved, political coverage can never justify secretly detaining a journalist."
The news agency Agence France-Presse quoted Pépito as saying after his release that all the questions put to him while he was detained concerned opposition politician Antoine Soromou, who has apparently been sought by the authorities since an abortive attack last month on President Lansana Conté’s motorcade.
The release of Pépito was reportedly decided at a meeting between the president and Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo. The prime minister immediately afterwards met with the ministers of territorial administration, justice and security.
The director of security and the state prosecutor told a delegation of journalists on 19 February that they were "giving" them Pépito and they would have done so long before if "he had agreed to cooperate."
Prior to his release, local press associations had decided to launch a campaign against security minister Moussa Sampil, with all the weekly newspapers this week planning to display a full-page photo of the minister with the legend, "enemy of journalists." Reporters Without Borders backed the initiative.