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Cameroon5 March 2002

Journalist arrested, another in hiding after denouncing sex scandal

In a letter to Justice Minister Amadou Ali, RSF expressed its concern following the arrest of the publication director of "Le Front Indépendant" and the police’s efforts to locate and arrest the publication director of "La Nouvelle Presse". Though not wishing to comment on the details of this case, RSF urged the minister to consult with the relevant authorities and see to it that the legal action launched against both journalists is dropped. "Nothing can justify the arrests of these two journalists as far as we are concerned. International institutions are constantly recalling that as a sentence for the peaceful expression of an opinion, imprisonment constitutes a serious human rights violation," explained RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard.

According to information collected by RSF, Peter William Mandio, publication director of the weekly "Le Front Indépendant", was arrested on 1 March 2002 in Yaoundé. He was questioned several times about an article that reported on an extra-marital affair between a secretary-general and director-general from the office of the president. The article did not include the names of the accused persons. Mandio was released on the evening of 4 March, but was also ordered to "remain accessible to the judiciary." According to the journalist, his arrest may also be linked to his participation in the National Committee Against Impunity (Comité national contre l’impunité), a local organisation that has filed a complaint for "crimes against humanity" against President Paul Biya in Belgium.

In addition, "La Nouvelle Presse" publication director Jacques Blaise Mvié is currently being sought by the security forces. The journalist published the names of the two senior bureaucrats from the president’s office who are allegedly having an affair. Mvié is currently in hiding. According to his newsroom, plainclothes police officers are keeping the newspaper’s offices under surveillance.

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