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Cameroon14 November 2005

Australian reporter released three days after being arrested with separatists

Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the release of Australian freelance reporter Andrew Mueller, who spent three days in detention after being arrested on 11 November in the company of two leaders of a banned separatist movement in the English-speaking northwestern part of Cameroon.

Mueller, who writes for the London-based dailies The Independent and The Guardian, was not charged and he was allowed to board a flight to London.

“We call on the Cameroonian authorities to be more careful and discerning in future, in order to avoid subjecting journalists who are just doing their work to wrongful arrest and detention,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Mueller was arrested in the small town of Kumbo, 110 km north of Bamenda, while in the company of members of the banned Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC), from whom he was getting material for a series of reports on “unrecognised states.”

The SCNC, which wants independence for an English-speaking region with about a fifth of Cameroon’s total population, is often involved in clashes with the police. At the moment of his arrest, Mueller was about to cover an SCNC meeting. The movement’s vice-president, Nfor Ngala Nfor, and its local representative, Stephen Kongnso, were arrested at the same time.

While held, Mueller was able to talk to the news agency Reuters. “Obviously I am not happy to be here but [the gendarmes] have not treated me badly,” he said. “I was given a mattress and a blanket (...) The local authorities have all been very courteous to me.”

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