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Authorities continue to hound new weekly, seek its closure

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is extremely concerned about the government's harassment of the new, privately-owned weekly "La Voix". On 28 November 2009, one of the paper's reporters was verbally abused by the interior minister and then detained for several hours while, on 3 December, a court is due to rule on a government complaint challenging its legality.

"After deporting 'La Voix''s editor, a Cameroonian national, and putting strong pressure on its shareholders and members for more than six weeks, the Chadian authorities are now trying to obtain the newspaper's closure," Reporters Without Borders said.

"We vigorously condemn these appalling manoeuvres against a publication that has done nothing wrong except enjoy a degree of success since its launch last May and remain outside the government's control," the press freedom organisation added. "We urge the authorities to abandon these proceedings and allow the newspaper to operate freely."

While covering the installation of a new police director general on 28 November, "La Voix" reporter Eloi Miandadji introduced himself to interior and public security minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir and requested an interview. Bachir reacted by shouting abuse at him and, in the presence of witnesses, said "'La Voix' will soon be closed." Miandadji was briefly detained and was forced to sign an undertaking not to publish anything about the ceremony, while the memory card of his camera was confiscated.

Meanwhile, after hearing the government's complaint against "La Voix" on 26 November, a court in N'Djamena is due to issue a ruling on 3 December.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a journalist based in N'Djamena told Reporters Without Borders: "We all know that this newspaper has everything in order, both administratively and financially. The government accuses it of receiving funding from abroad, especially France. That is ridiculous."

"La Voix"'s shareholders were summoned for questioning at the headquarters of the security police on 18 November. One month earlier, on 14 October, the newspaper's editor, Innocent Ebodé, a Cameroonian national, was deported despite the fact that his papers were in order.

Chad was ranked 132nd out of 175 countries in the 2009 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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