CPJ condemned as "harassment" the treatment of four foreign journalists covering the election in the Republic of Congo
LIBREVILLE — A New York-based media rights group on Saturday
condemned as "harassment" the treatment of four foreign journalists
covering last week's disputed presidential election
in the Republic of Congo.
"The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is alarmed by
the harassment of international journalists covering this week's
disputed presidential elections," it said in a statement.
The CPJ said Marlene Rabaud and Arnaud Zajtman of France 24
and Thomas Fessy of the BBC were manhandled by police
and had equipment confiscated or smashed during
the dispersal of an opposition protest on Wednesday.
The rally was held in protest at the announcement
that President Denis Sassou Nguesso had been re-elected.
"It's unacceptable in a democracy that international reporters
are being harassed for covering an election and its aftermath,"
said CPJ Africa Programme Coordinator Tom Rhodes.
"We call on authorities to halt this intimidation, return seized equipment,
and compensate media for any damages," Rhodes said.
The CPJ also said security agents harassed Catherine Ninin of
Radio France Internationale by going to her hotel
and demanding to see her.
Ninin received a threatening phone call from a presidential aide
an hour later, while two more groups of security agents
besieged the hotel throughout the night.
"The harassment of our colleague Catherine Ninin reveals
a climate of fear and self-censorship that local press
in the Republic of Congo has endured for years," added Rhodes.
Zajtman also reported receiving a similar phone call
in the middle of the night.
Police spokesman Jean Aive Alakoua said had not received
any complaints in connection with the alleged incidents.
President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who returned to power after
civil war in 1997 and has run the Congo for a total
of a quarter century, won Sunday's poll with 78.6 percent of the vote.
Several candidates have contested the result
and accused the authorities of massive fraud.
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