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Cameroonian newspaper editor abducted

(RSF/IFEX) - The following is a 21 December 2009 open letter to Interior Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir about the abduction of newspaper editor Innocent Ebodé:

Mr. Ahmat Mahamat Bachir
Minister of Interior
N'Djamena, Chad
Paris, 21 December 2009

Dear Minister,

Reporters Without Borders is extremely concerned about the fate of Cameroonian journalist Innocent Ebodé, the editor of the N'Djamena-based weekly La Voix, who was kidnapped from his home in N'Djamena yesterday. You have just said he is now in Cameroon but other sources say they think he is still in Chad.

His abduction was carried out by three men in plain clothes, who pulled up outside his home in a red Toyota car with no licence plates at 10 a.m. yesterday. One of them got out, went up to Ebodé and forcibly bundled him into the car without identifying himself or explaining why Ebodé was being taken away. His relatives and colleagues have received no news of him since then.

Ebodé was deported from Chad on 14 October on the grounds that his papers were allegedly not in order. He returned after a court ordered La Voix's suspension at the start of December on the grounds that it did not have an editor. Reporters Without Borders has been criticising the Chadian government's attempts to silence La Voix ever since the harassment of this independent newspaper first began.

Our organisation energetically condemns the way Ebodé was detained yesterday. By telling Radio France Internationale and Agence France-Presse that he is now in the Cameroonian border city of Kousséri, you seem to be indicating that interior ministry personnel were involved in his "abduction."

If this is the case, we urge you to lose no time in explaining the reasons for his arrest and expulsion. As his family and lawyer are without news of him, we call on you to publicly provide more detailed information about what happened to him.

We trust you will give this matter your careful consideration.


Jean-François Julliard

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