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Nigeria31 October 2008

US-based online reporter freed after 11 days

Reporters Without Borders hails the release of journalist Jonathan Elendu of the news website Elendu Reports (www.elendureports.com) on 29 October. He was held for 11 days at the headquarters of the State Security Service in the capital, Abuja.

“Elendu is free but the authorities confiscated his passport and personal effects,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Eleven days of interrogation and detention without charge is an abuse of authority. We call for the return of his passport, so that he can fly back to the United States, where he resides.”

Elendu said after his release: “It was the most awful experience I have ever had. It was only on the 10th day that I was able to see my lawyers for the first time. [The authorities] tried to undermine my resolve but they did not succeed.”


22.10 - US-based online reporter held since his arrival in Nigeria five days ago

Reporters Without Borders condemns the detention of Jonathan Elendu, the publisher of the online newspaper Elendu Reports (www.elendureports.com), since 17 October, when he was arrested by the State Security Service (SSS) on arrival at Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport, in the capital Abuja, on a flight from the United States, where he lives.

Denying that Elendu had been arrested, SSS spokesman Kenechuks Onyegogu said he had been “invited” by the SSS to explain certain matters involving “national security.” Elendu is being held at SSS headquarters in Abuja, where close relatives were refused permission to see him yesterday.

“Jonathan Elendu is clearly being held by the government,” Reporters Without Borders said. “His website has become a source of serious news and information and he often writes about corruption, the situation in the Niger delta and other subjects that are sensitive in Nigeria. We call for his immediate release pending the results of the investigation.”

As well as writing for Elendu Reports, which he created in 2005, Elendu is accused of contributing to the SaharaReporters (http://www.saharareporters.com/) website, which the authorities describe as “guerrilla journalism.” Officials also gave “money-laundering” as the reason for his arrest.

Several of Elendu’s recent articles have been about the economic and ecological disaster under way in the Niger delta, where there have been armed clashes between government forces and separatist rebels for years. It was this story that led to US freelance journalist and filmmaker Andrew Berends and his Nigerian interpreter, Samuel George, being questioned for 10 days at the start of last month.



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