The International Federation of Journalists today called on the political authorities of the Republic of Guinea to release immediately Mohamed Lamine Diallo, editor-in-chief of the weekly Lance newspaper arrested over one week ago.
Since Diallo’s arrest at his Conakry residence by a group of armed state policemen, both his colleagues and family continue to live in fear and confusion over the fate of the journalist who has remained in custody since 16 February.
"The international community must tell President Conte in no uncertain terms that his dictatorial rule must come to an end," said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Regional Director for Africa. "Locking up and beating our colleagues into submission will never be the answer to Guinea's democractic demise".
Diallo, commonly known by his pen-name “Ben Pépito” was detained by police for allegedly writing a newspaper article in which he likened the situation in Guinea under the leadership of General Lansana Conté, to the one in Togo, following the demise of another General Gnassingbé Eyadema, President of the Republic of Togo.
In his article comparing the two Generals, Pépito underscored the constitutional amendments made by the two leaders to enable them to hold Presidential terms for life, adding that there is a likelihood that the scenario in Lomé will occur in Conakry if Conté dies.
In a related development, the IFJ Africa Office in Dakar has welcomed the release on 14 February 2005 of another Guinean journalist, Lansana Sarr, a reporter for the state-owned daily, Horoya.
Sarr’s arrest came as he was taking pictures of injured hotel employees after they were beaten by police for organising a march to claim compensation following the sale of the hotel.
The police confiscated Sarr’s camera and mobile phone and he was then taken to the police station where he spent several hours before being freed later in the evening and his mobile returned to him.
Meanwhile, the police were still holding on to Sarr’s camera, insisting that the negatives be developed and printed in the presence of the police so that they could destroy the pictures that were taken by the journalist
"The Guinean authorities have consistently shown resisted policies that support the free flow of information which is the hallmark of good governance," said Baglo. "The time has come for change and for the respect of basic human rights and freedom of expression".
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries