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Reporters Without Borders petitions for release of three imprisoned journalists in Chad

On 14 August 2013, journalist Eric Topona's 100th day in detention and five days before his trial is due to start in N'Djamena, Reporters Without Borders launched a petition for his release and the release of fellow-journalist Moussaye Avenir de la Tchiré and the blogger Jean Etienne Laokolé.

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“These three men, who are being held at Amsinene military camp in N'Djamena, are not conspirators,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“They are just independent or opposition news providers who offer critical coverage of the situation in Chad, and we therefore urge Chadian citizens and members of the international public to use this petition to say they think their detention has gone on for too long."

“We are not saying that these news providers cannot be prosecuted if they are accused of something, but we think that their detention is excessive and we think they should be released prior to being brought to trial.”

A number of government critics were arrested arbitrarily during a three-month period that began in March. They included Laokolé, arrested on 22 March, Topona, arrested on 6 May and De La Tchiré, arrested on 7 May.

When detaining several opposition parliamentarians around the same time as Topona and De La Tchiré, officials claimed that the arrests had foiled a conspiracy against the government. The authorities also accused Topona and Laokolé of being in contact with Makaila Nguebla, a blogger living abroad.

Topona, who is general secretary of the Union of Chadian Journalists, was initially charged with “endangering constitutional order.” But the charge he will face when his trial opens on 19 August is “proposing to organize a conspiracy that did not materialize.”

De la Tchiré, who is the publisher of the newspaper Abba Garde, is charged with “inciting hatred and inciting a popular uprising.” There has been no positive response to any of the provisional release requests presented by the three detainees' lawyers.

More information on this affair.

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