- Police officers in Equatorial Guinea arrested journalist Rodrigo Angue Nguema at his home in the capital, Malabo, on Monday. Mr Angue works as a correspondent for the wire service Agence France-Presse (AFP), as well as several other foreign news organisations.
Mr Angue, an Equatoguinean citizen, is one of the only independent journalists in the country, where no independent press exists. The AFP correspondent is currently being held at the central police station in Malabo.
According to journalists outside the country who were able to speak to Mr Angue during his detention, the journalist's arrest stemmed from an article he wrote for AFP on 29 October detailing rumours of an attempted military coup in Equatorial Guinea.
Equatoguinean government officials said that the journalist was detained for questioning. "The Prime Minister has asked the Prosecutor-General to look into the origin of the rumour about a coup attempt," Presidential Foreign Affairs adviser Miguel Oyono told AFP. "So far, the only source we have for it is this journalist."
Equatorial Guinea has one of the most repressive media environments in Africa. The state press is dominated by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea. Private publications appear irregularly, and independent journalists are frequently harassed.
Last year, in spite of having proper accreditation, Mr Angue was twice barred from covering the controversial trial of 144 opposition supporters who had been charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government, according to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
During the trial, presidential security officials accused Mr Angue of having contacts with the defendants and police said he had walked on a out-of-bounds pavement near the courthouse. The journalist said he was targeted because he had taken too close an interest in the beating of the defendants.
- We deplore this habitual disregard for press freedom, said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper in a statement issued today. "We call on authorities to immediately release Angue Nguema, and to allow independent journalists to practice their profession without fear of reprisal."
Also the Paris-based group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) today called on Equatoguinean authorities "to explain why he is being detained and also to stop harassing him."
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