- Gabonese government has released five journalists and anti-corruption campaigners who are charged with inciting revolt for possessing a document critical of long-time president Omar Bongo. They were arrested on 30 December.
The document which landed the five in jail, had called on President Bongo to give an accounting of his management of the country's finances for the last 40 years.
Gabon Interior Minister Andre Obame said the journalists and anti-corruption campaigners are charged with possessing "written propaganda with a view to inciting rebellion against state authorities." The charges carry a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a fine of 250,000 CFA francs (380 euros).
The men were arrested two weeks ago for possessing copies of an open letter to president Bongo, published last month on a French political blog by Bruno Ben Moubamba, who is the spokesman for a group called the Free Actors of Gabonese Civil Society.
Reporters Without Borders, Africa desk chief, Ambroise Pierre said Kougou and radio Sainte-Marie technical director Gaston Asseko were arrested for doing their jobs. Mr Pierre said the charges leveled against them were ridiculous and the group believes the investigating judge will recognise the charges are without substance.
He said the government action is particularly dangerous if other journalists in Gabon, fearing similar treatment, begin self-censoring what they report.
"Asseko's provisional release is excellent news for him and his family," Reporters Without Borders also said.
"He recently underwent an operation and his health deteriorated during these two weeks of detention. We now pin our hopes on the investigating judge's ability to recognise that there is no substance to these charges and to dismiss the case."
President Bongo denies the charge and is counter-suing for defamation.
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