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Government urged to lift suspension of newspaper

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned the government's decision to suspend the newspaper "Última Hora" after it ran a front page article on 8 April 2011 quoting a US State Department human rights report saying President João Bernardo "Nino" Vieira had been murdered by soldiers led by then-Col. Antonio Indjai (current head of the army) in March 2009.

The paper was accused by the government of "systematically publishing articles which deliberately distort the government's image".

The press freedom organisation warned that the suspension (announced on 15 April), as well as other repressive measures by the government of prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior, would not improve the country's image but draw international criticism.

It called on the government to lift the suspension, exercise its right of reply to the article and stop harassing the country's media and journalists if Guinea-Bissau wanted to be considered a true democracy.

Athizar Mendes Pereira, the paper's managing editor, was arrested in 2008 for articles criticising the armed forces. Several radio stations and other media outlets have also been silenced by the government in the past for similar reasons, including, in 2002, radio station Bombolom FM, which was suspended for three months.

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