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Cameroon: RFI reporter Ahmed Abba released from prison

Up date 23.12.2017: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcomes radio reporter Ahmed Abba's release after a military appeal court in Yaoundé reduced his jail sentence on terrorism charges from 10 years to 24 months.

The headquarters of France Médias Monde (FMM), a group in charge of French international broadcasting services including Radio France International (RFI), in Issy Les Moulineaux, outside Paris, 4 September 2017
The headquarters of France Médias Monde (FMM), a group in charge of French international broadcasting services including Radio France International (RFI), in Issy Les Moulineaux, outside Paris, 4 September 2017

LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 21 December 2017.

Radio France Internationale's Hausa-language correspondent, Abba was arrested in July 2015 in Maroua, in Cameroon's Far North region, after covering the activities of the terrorist group Boko Haram. As he has been held for 29 months, he should qualify for immediate release.

After his arrest, Abba was held incommunicado for nearly three months and was tortured by the intelligence services. He then faced the possibility of being sentenced to death by court martial.

A military court finally sentenced him in April to ten years in prison on charges of "failing to report acts of terrorism to the authorities" and "laundering the proceeds of an act of terrorism."

The military appeal court has quashed his conviction on the first charge but upheld his conviction on the second one.

"Nothing can compensate the lost years in prison but we are relieved to know that Ahmed Abba will soon be reunited with his family," said Clea Kahn-Sriber, the head of RSF's Africa desk.

"This is a mixed decision inasmuch as only part of Abba's conviction has been overturned and he has to pay exorbitant court costs. We maintain that he should never have been imprisoned.”

For the past two years, RSF has constantly called for Abba's release and criticized the lack of transparency of the judicial proceedings against him. In its most recent release, issued jointly with the Committee to Protect Journalists, RSF said Abba had been the victim of a "judicial conspiracy" and again demanded his release.

Cameroon is ranked 130th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

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