Cameroon: calls to free Ahmed Abba grow as mystery surrounds appeal hearing

The IFJ has called for the immediate release of Cameroonian journalist Ahmed Abba whose appeal hearing, which was due to start today, was mysteriously called-off at the last minute.   The Radio France Internationale correspondent in Cameroon, was given a ten-year jail sentence in April for covering the activities of Boko Haram – a jihadi terror group.   The IFJ and international NGOs launched a support committee to help increase pressure on the Cameroonian authorities on the eve of the appeal. But now, Abba’s name has been removed from today’s court lists and mystery surrounds the status of his appeal.   In April a military court in Yaounde sentenced Abba to 10 years in jail and fined him 85,000€ on a charge of “laundering the proceeds of a terrorist act”.   The IFJ and international media freedom NGOs have consistently called for his release describing his incarceration as a threat to independent journalism. Abba has always heightprotested his innocence.   Abbas was held incommunicado following his arrest in July 2015 and was allegedly tortured by the security services.   Observers at the Abbas’s trial – which was postponed more than 15 times - claim it was marked by irregularities.   IFJ President Philippe Leruth said: “Our colleague Ahmed Abba must be released immediately. His trial is unsafe, no evidence was presented, and his condemnation is nothing more than the criminalisation of pure journalistic work. His jailing is designed to send a message to all journalists. Today all journalists are sending a message to the authorities – free Ahmed and stop persecuting journalists”.    

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