A presenter at a private radio station in Conakry and the owner of the station are facing prosecution after the station hosted an outspoken critic of the government in a phone radio interview.
Aboubacar Algassimou Diallo, host of the prime-time show Oeil de Lynx on Lynx FM, and Diallo Soulemane, owner of the said station, were summoned by the Criminal Investigations Department of the Police (CID) on August 19, 2019.
This followed the July 31, 2019 edition of Oeil de Lynx show during which Ms. Sanoh Dossou Conde, a Guinean resident in the US and former activist of the ruling RPG Arc-en-Ciel who has become a fierce opponent of the government, allegedly castigated Dr. Mohamed Diane, Minister of defence for financial malpractices.
The two journalists were heard by a magistrate court in Kaloum and were ordered to report to the court every Wednesday and Friday at 9:00 AM as part of a judicial control procedure.
Algassimou and Souleymane are accused of “complicity in defamation, dissemination of information likely to disturb public security or undermine human dignity under articles 32 and 33 of the law on cybersecurity” by the magistrate court of Kaloum. The prosecution used law NᵒL 2016/037 on cyber-security instead of the organic law L / 2010/02 / CNT of June 22, 2010 on the Press Freedom which decriminalises press offenses.
“They are using bullying tactics and if you look deep into the charges, there is no substance to them, they are empty. You should not be summoned because you have given a platform to other persons to express themselves,” lamented Fode Oussou Fofana, an opposition politician.
On August 21, the court also banned Algassimou from travelling out of the country and suspended his programme, Oeil du Lynx, indefinitely.
MFWA condemns the blatant use of state power to intimidate the two journalists. There has been no defamation complaint from any individual or institution against the journalists, only a summon by the police in what should have been a civil matter even if there was a complaint. Moreover, defamation is a press offense which is decriminalised under Guinea’s laws. The course to provisions relating to public security under the criminal code is clearly an attempt to confuse the issues and penalize the journalists at all cost.
We, therefore, urge the authorities to drop the charges against Algassimou and Soulemane and allow them to go about their journalism work without any further interference. We also call on the media regulator, Haute Autorite de la Communication (HAC), to intervene to ensure that the rights of the journalists are not abused further.