- Civil society groups are outrages by the arrest of Dr Sarah Wykes in Cabinda (Angola). The British citizen is engaged in global anti-corruption work, and her detention is believed to have come on government orders.
Ms Wykes is employed by the UK-based organisation, which today reported the corruption watchdog had spent her second night in jail in Cabinda yesterday and remained in prison this afternoon. "She is comfortable and has been provided with supplies by her civil society colleagues. She has also met with the UK consul," it was informed.
Charges against her remain unclear but seem to centre on an allegation of violating national security. This, according to Global Witness, "covers a very broad and inspecific set of issues under Angolan law." The organisation called these charges "baseless" and urged for Ms Wilke's immediate and unconditional release.
She was due to be offered bail of around US$ 2000 on Monday but the interim Attorney General in Cabinda has not yet signed the papers for her release. The bail conditions also remain unclear. Her court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, though Global Witness said it was "working to get the interim Attorney General to sign the release papers today."
Dr Wykes originally travelled to the oil-rich Angolan exclave of Cabinda to speak to civil society, companies and the government to assess progress made on improving the transparency of the money from the Angola's oil sector, which constitutes the majority of the government's budget.
The Berlin-based anti-corruption organisation Transparency International (TI) today joined the call of Global Witness in condemning the detention of Ms Wykes. TI Chief Executive David Nussbaum said, "Our movement supports Global Witness' call for Dr Wykes' immediate release. We are concerned that while trying to keep natural resources from turning into a corruption curse, Dr Wykes has been arrested, seemingly without justification."
TI also said it was concerned about the long-term effects Dr Wyke's arrest may have on civil society's ability to improve transparency and accountability in Angola, a country that so far has made little progress in fighting corruption.
Global Witness this afternoon said Ms Wyke had been "charged with espionage". The group refuted any allegation of espionage by Dr Wykes saying "no evidence to support the charge has yet been presented." Angolan authorities further were denying Dr Wykes her own lawyers and are insisting on appointing a government lawyer.
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