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Togo25 June 2003

Three journalists transferred to prison

After being held 10 days in police cells, Dimas Dzikodo (editor) and Philip Evégnon (publisher) of the weekly L’Evénement, and Colombo Kpakpabia, of Nouvel Echo, were transferred on 24 June to prison in Lomé. Police said on 19 June that publication of photos as alleged "proof of breaking up a demonstration" was an act of "putting out false news and disturbing public order."


Three journalists arrested and detained

Dimas Dzikodo and Philip Evégnon, editor-in-chief and editor, respectively, of the private weekly L’Evénement, as well as Colombo Kpakpabia, a journalist with the private weekly Le Nouvel Echo, were arrested by police officers on 14 and 15 June 2003. They have since been detained and questioned at national police headquarters in the capital, Lome. The journalists have been accused of "distributing false news" with the intent of damaging the country’s reputation.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the three journalists’ prolonged detention. The organisation notes that they have not been officially charged and demands their immediate release. It also recalls that both L’Evénement and Le Nouvel Echo are close to the opposition. "The Togolese authorities aren’t fooling anyone. These arrests clearly demonstrate their desire to continue repressing the country’s independent media, which is the only outlet for the expression of dissenting opinions in the country," Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Ménard said. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma is included on the organisation’s list of international press freedom predators.

Dzikodo was arrested on 14 June at around 7:00 p.m. (local time) at a cybercafe, where he was scanning photographs of persons who were allegedly beaten up by police officers and militiamen of the ruling party, Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais (RPT), during the last presidential election. The journalist had planned to post the photographs on the website of the opposition party Union des forces du changement. Police officers questioned him at length and also searched his home. The next day, police arrested Evégnon on the pretext that he had asked Dzikodo to carry out this work. Kpakpabia was also arrested at a cybercafe while sending similar images over the Internet to a news website abroad.

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