CAMEROON JOURNALISTS QUESTIONED IN MILITARY COURT FOR WITHHOLDING INFORMATION
journalists in Cameroon accused of withholding information from the state have
been interrogated by a military court and ordered not to leave the country,
according to news reports.
court in Yaounde on Tuesday questioned for several hours Félix Cyriaque Ebolé
Bola, a senior reporter for the privately owned daily newspaperMutationsand
the president of Cameroon's National Union of Journalists, and Rodrigue Tongue,
a senior reporter and the head of the political desk for the privately owned
Messager, according to newsreports.
A lecturer at a journalism school, Baba Wame, was also interrogated.
Newsreportsciting an unnamed judicial source said
the court found that the journalists had access to information about national
security and had not informed the authorities. The reports did not elaborate. Areportby the independent dailyCameroon Journalsaid the journalists were accused
of possessing a document containing information about the health of President
The court released both journalists
the same day, barred them from reporting, and ordered them to report to the
court every Monday as a guarantee that they would not flee the country,newsreportssaid.
The journalists were also told not to make any public comments about the case
pending the conclusion of the investigation.
The news websiteKoaci,
which covers news and culture, reported that journalists attempting to cover
the court proceeding were barred from entering and at least one TV camera was
confiscated. The report did not offer further details.
The journalists would be given 24-hour
notice if they are required to appear in court for a trial, Claude Assira,
Tongue's lawyer, told CPJ.
"This interrogation may deter
journalists and their sources from sharing information relating to national
security, hampering the flow of news," said Peter Nkanga, CPJ's West
Africa representative. "We call on Cameroonian authorities to stop harassing
Félix Cyriaque Ebolé Bola and Rodrigue Tongue and allow them to work and travel
Didier Badjeck, a military spokesman,
told CPJ he was not authorized to speak about the case. Information Minister
Issa Tchiroma Bakari did not respond to CPJ's calls or text message.
Peter Essoka, the vice-president of
the National Communications Council, the government regulator that hears
complaints against the media, told CPJ that the council was investigating the
matter as the military had not consulted with it before summoning the
journalists to court.