- Sarah Wykes, a British human rights activist researching the lack of transparency of the oil sector in Angola's Cabinda exclave, has been cleared of espionage charges and told she would be free to leave the country. Ms Wykes was detained in Cabinda one month ago.
Angola's Attorney-General, Augusto Carneiro, was quoted as saying that Ms Wykes is now free to leave Angola. "She can leave today, tomorrow, whenever she wants," Mr Carneiro told the press.
After her detention in Cabinda, Ms Wykes was taken to the capital, Luanda, where she was formally charged with espionage. Ms Wykes is still in Luanda, where she has been waiting for a response from the Angolan judicial authorities to her appeal to be allowed to leave the country. This response finally came today.
The British anti-corruption campaigner was engaged by the London-based charity Global Witness to study the situation in the oil-rich but impoverished province of Cabinda, which has been fighting for independence from Angola since 1975. Cabinda holds the largest part of Angola's oil resources, but very little of the country's galloping oil revenues are channelled back to Cabinda.
Ms Wykes was picked up while meeting with civil society groups, 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. Angola has often been criticised for lack of transparency and corruption in the handling of its vast oil revenues.
Global Witness and the Berlin-based anti-corruption organisation Transparency International (TI) have called the espionage charges against Ms Wykes "baseless" and urged for her immediate and unconditional release. TI also said it was concerned about the long-term effects Ms 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.
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