Ameriques Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Nigeria4 November 2008

Second online journalist arrested in one week

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the arrest of online journalist Emmanuel Emeka Asiwe, a US national, at the Muritala Muhammed international airport on his arrival from the United States on 28 October to visit his sick mother and attend to family matters.

He is currently being held at the headquarters of the internal intelligence service, the State Security Service (SSS) in the capital Aubuja. He is the second blogger to be arrested in Nigeria within a week.

Emmanuel Emeka Asiwe is editor of online publication HuhuOnline (, which he founded in 2007.

Since the publication of ironic online photos featuring the son of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on Sahara Reporters (, the authorities have hardened their stance towards online publications.

Online journalist Jonathan Elendu ( was imprisoned for 11 days from 18 to 29 October because of articles posted on his website. He had returned to Abuja from his base in the United States to make two documentaries about the current situation in the country. On his release, he described his experience as the “worst of my life”.

The authorities confiscated his passport and his luggage. More than a week after his release he is still unable to return home. Considered as a “threat to the country’s internal security”, he risks arrest at any moment if he continues his online work.

“The authorities stepped up their surveillance of bloggers after the online publication of embarrassing photos online of the president’s son. The taboo surrounding the head of state, his family and his clan are powerful prohibitions, but which should have no place in a democracy and should certainly not be a matter for intelligence services. The only issue is the release of Emmanuel Emeka Asiwe”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

Sahara Reporters was founded in 2005 by human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, aged 34, who has been calling for democracy in Nigeria since 1992. He has been arrested eight times and tortured. He worked with Jonathan Elendu from 2005 to 2007.

Nigeria has five million Internet users, fewer than the African average at 3.5%. Almost two thirds of the users are concentrated in the financial capital, Lagos.

To see the photos in question:

In this country
22 January - Nigeria
Investigation into journalist’s murder entrusted to judicial police
20 January - Nigeria
Journalist escapes attack on her home by armed men
28 November - Nigeria
Four journalists face trial over article suggesting President in poor health
18 November - Nigeria
Online journalist Emmanuel Emeka Asiwe freed after one week
31 October - Nigeria
US-based online reporter freed after 11 days

in the annual report
Nigeria - Annual Report 2008
Nigeria - Annual Report 2007
Nigeria - Annual report 2006

Africa press releases
3 June - Somalia
Alarm at TV station director’s abduction near Mogadishu
27 May - Gabon
Government imposes news blackout on President Bongo’s health
26 May - Somalia
Radio reporter shot by militia dies of injuries, fourth journalist to be killed this year

africa archives

18 March 2009 - Democratic Republic of Congo
“Bukavu, murder city”: investigation report into murders of journalists in the capital of Sud-Kivu
21 May 2008 - Eritrea
Naizghi Kiflu, the dictatorship’s eminence grise
6 March 2008 - Kenya
"How far to go ?" Kenya’s media caught in the turmoil of a failed election

Sign the petitions
Sign the petition for the release of ten Eritrean journalists