Cote d’Ivoire ALERT: Police detain three journalists

Three senior journalists of privately-owned daily Le Noveau Courier newspaper in Cote d’Ivoire were held by the Ivoirian police for refusing to reveal their sources of information on a leaked report of an alleged corruption in the cocoa and coffee sector that the newspaper published on July 13, 2010.

The journalists, Saint Claver Oula, Stéphane Guédé and Théophile Kouamouo, editor-in-chief, publisher and managing editor respectively, were detained on the orders of the public prosecutor, Raymond Tchimou Fehou.

The arrests and subsequent detention of the journalists followed the day’s front-page story of the newspaper that carried excerpts of a leaked report of an alleged embezzlement in the cocoa and coffee sector of the country.

Oula, Guédé and Kouamouo were picked up by plain-clothed police officers at the newspaper’s office on the same day that the said story appeared on the newsstands. Before taking the journalists away, the police illegally confiscated a laptop computer.

According to Desire Gueu, the counsel of the journalists, the three were likely to be charged with stealing of official documents, for refusing to disclose their sources.

MFWA was saddened by the Ivorian authorities attitude of blatantly forcing the journalists to reveal their sources of information. Confidentiality and protection of sources are key principles of journalism every where including Cote d’Ivore.

MFWA was dismayed at the detention of the journalists and appealed to the government of President Laurent Gbagbo to effect the immediate and unconditional release of the journalists.

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