On July 31, 2015, Joseph Gnahoua Titi, managing editor of the Aujourd’hui newspaper, appeared before an examining magistrate in Cote d’Ivoire for “disseminating false information” and “libel against the head of state.”
Before being arrested and detained at the Abidjan Remand Home and Prison on July 29, Titi was summoned together with his editor-in-chief, Séverine Blé, on July 28. The two were summoned to explain a publication in Aujourd’hui. Titi was questioned for nearly five hours.
The said article, published on July 21 and titled “President Ouattara is extremely rich. His wealth is estimated at 17 billion US dollars,” allegedly “impugned the integrity” of Ivorian President Alassanne Ouattara.
During the interrogation, Titi said the article was based on published information made available by France’s external intelligence agency, the General Directorate of External Security (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieur-DGSE).
According to the MFWA’s correspondent in Cote d’Ivoire, the reports from the General Directorate of External Security are unpopular in the country.
“These reports from the DGSE are alleged to have impugned the integrity of the Abidjan regime with regard to the violation of the arms embargo, the massive misappropriation of the public purse and electoral fraud,” our correspondent said.
The MFWA condemns the arrest and detention of Titi. Press offences were decriminalized in Côte d’Ivoire in 2004, hence the arrest and detention of Titi violates Ivorian law in addition to Titi’s rights as a journalist.