Authorities Scramble Transmission of Radio Station, Arrest Journalists over ‘False Alarm’ Charges

Gendarmes have stormed the premises of Radio Gangan in Conakry and arrested three of its management personnel, while the station’s transmission has been scrambled by the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ARPT) in Guinea over what the authorities claim to be speculations on the network about the death of Guinea president, Alpha Condé.

Mamadou Tanou Bah, Sékou Djamal Pendassa and Djéïnabou Diallo – Editor in Chief, his deputy and the Commercial Manager respectively, were arrested on October 30, 2017 shortly after Radio Gangan aired a programme which was largely misunderstood to have announced the death of Guinea president, Alpha Condé.

“We are all mortals. We had president Sékou Touré and president Lansana Conté; they are both dead. President Alpha Condé will also die.”

This sound bite, which was followed by dirges, led to widespread rumours that President Conde was dead, with Radio Gangan cited as the source. Unfortunately, Guinea’s post and telecommunication regulator, (ARPT) reacted to the false rumours by scrambling the station’s transmissions, while a group of gendarmes stormed the premises to arrest the three.

The Editor, Mamadou Tanou explained the issue to journalists who rushed to the Tannerie Gendarmerie to show solidarity;

“You know we lost a journalist, Alsény Duplex Sylla yesterday (October 29). As a tribute to him, we replayed one of the old programmes of which he was the principal presenter and in which his co-presenter made the point that nothing is permanent in life.”

The three detained media professionals were released after five hours. However, Aboubacar Camara, general manager of the station, was taken into detention when he went to the gendarmerie to protest the arrest of his colleagues.

This is the second time in eight days that journalists in Guinea have been arrested in the line of duty. On October 22, 2017, two reporters from Télévision Espace; Jibril Kaback Camara and Amara Alex Sylla, were arrested for taking pictures of an armoury at the Apha Yaya Diallo military camp. The facility had caught fire the previous day with explosions from the site terrifying neighbouring residents all night.

We were forced by the military officers to delete all the pictures we took. It was not until we deleted the pictures that we were released,’’ reported one of the arrested journalists.

The MFWA urges the authorities in Guinea to take steps to end the recent spate of hostility against journalists and the media. We call for the release of Aboubacar Camara and an end to the scrambling of the transmission of Radio Gangan, which is a flagrant attack on press freedom and the Guinean public’s right to information.

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