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RSF protests closure of two private newspapers

(RSF/IFEX) - In a letter to Guinea-Bissau State Prosecutor Caetano N'Tchama, RSF protested the closure of two private newspapers, the daily "Diario de Bissau" and the weekly "Gazeta de Noticias". "The independent press has been in the authorities' sights since Mr. Yala's election to the presidency of Guinea-Bissau in January 2000," stated Robert Ménard, the organisation's secretary-general. "This pressure, which constantly threatens the right to inform, must be ended once and for all," added Ménard.

According to information collected by RSF, on 27 October 2001, the state prosecutor ordered the indefinite closure of the private daily "Diario de Bissau" and the private weekly "Gazeta de Noticias" because of "irregular activities." N'Tchama also accuses these publications of disturbing the country's "peace and stability" and "violating official secrets." Moreover, N'Tchama has openly threatened to close the private radio stations Bombolom-FM and Radio Pidjiquiti unless they straighten out "their administrative and legal situation within fifteen days."

RSF recalled that on 8 September, the same prosecutor personally went to the Radio Pidjiquiti offices to demand cassettes from a programme in which journalists questioned his appointment by Kumba Yala. When the staff refused to hand over the cassettes, N'Tchama, accompanied by two armed soldiers, threatened to arrest the journalists. The following day, he sent his bodyguard to threaten Radio Pidjiquiti staff again (see IFEX alert of 11 September 2001).

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