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RSF urges police to announce the charges against managing editor of weekly "San Finna"

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has called on the Burkina Faso police to announce the charges against Mathieu N'Do, managing editor of the weekly "San Finna" and one of the leaders of the opposition party National Union for Democracy and Development (Union nationale pour la démocratie et le développement, UNDD). N'Do has been held incommunicado at a special police centre since his arrest on 5 November 2004 at Ouagadougou airport.

"This journalist is a leading member of the opposition, but if he was arrested because of his articles, we must condemn this abuse of authority by the Security Ministry. If not, we call on the government to make this known and, whatever the charges against N'Do, to grant him the right to a legal defence in accordance with the law," RSF said.

N'Do was reportedly detained on the orders of the police high command upon his arrival at Ouagadougou airport, from Abidjan, on 5 November at 3:00 p.m. (local time). He had just spent two weeks in Côte d'Ivoire and had sent his newspaper several dispatches from the country.

N'Do was taken from the airport to the "Sector 28" police camp, where he is still being held. He has not been allowed to contact his family or his lawyer. Staff at his newspaper said they tried to send him food, clean clothes, a towel and soap, but the police agreed only to take the food and the soap, without further explanation.

Reached several times by RSF, police headquarters refused to explain the reasons for N'Do's arrest and incommunicado detention. Staff at the offices of the attorney-general and state prosecutor said they had nothing to do with N'Do's arrest, which was solely the responsibility of the Security Ministry.

Known both for being a critical journalist and an opposition leader, N'Do has been detained previously. His family believes his latest arrest to be linked to that of UNDD President Hermann Yaméogo, a lawyer and member of Parliament.

On 29 September, Hermann Yaméogo was detained as he got off a plane from Abidjan. He was questioned for several hours by police, along with UNDD activist Noël Yaméogo. Earlier that day, Security Minister Djibril Bassolé said in an interview that Burkina Faso was the victim of a "plot" in which "illustrious" citizens were accomplices.

Bassolé alleged that the accomplices included Hermann Yaméogo, who along with others, was "traipsing around certain capitals trying to sell information about supposed training camps operated by foreign putschists" in Burkina Faso. The minister also said the recipients of this information included RSF, a claim that was categorically denied by the organisation.

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