Mathurin Momet, editor of the privately-owned daily Le Confident, was released along with a number of other detainees on 15 March following the coup d’etat led by Gen. François Bozizé. The privately-owned news media had suspended publication on 3 March to protest against Momet’s detention.
Publication director arrested
Mathurin Momet, publication director of the private daily Le Confident, was arrested by plainclothes police officers at his newspaper’s offices on 20 February 2003.
Reporters Without Borders condemns this unwarranted arrest. The organisation urges the authorities to do everything in their power to ensure that the journalist is released without delay and that those responsible for his arrest are punished.
According to Reporters Without Border’s information, Momet was interrogated at the police station in Bangui’s harbour. The journalist is accused of "threatening the state’s internal and external security" and "inciting hatred". His colleagues,
friends and family have been prevented from meeting with the journalist
since his arrest.
The authorities hold the journalist responsible for several contentious
articles, including one published in his newspaper’s 19 February edition,
entitled "Bossembélé: the sub-prefect and brigade commander beaten up by the
Banyamulengue", in which he denounced the conduct of Jean Pierre Bemba’s
Mouvement de libération du Congo, a Congolese rebel group. The journalist
also criticised President Ange-Felix Patassé’s inability to rein in the
rebels. Police officers reportedly also questioned the journalist about a 20
February article entitled "Patassé humiliated at the 22nd Franco-African
On the occasion of the 22nd Franco-African Summit, Reporters Without Borders recalls that since the attempted coup on 25 October 2002, Central African Republic journalists have been working under a great deal of pressure, which has in turn led to increasing self-censorship in both the public and private press.