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TV presenter charged for Gbagbo-leaning coverage

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, July 22, 2011 - Authorities in Ivory Coast detained a journalist on Thursday for moderating a TV talk show favorable to ousted former president Laurent Gbagbo, according to local journalists.

Hermann Aboa, a presenter with national, state-run public broadcaster Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI) is being held in the Agban military police camp in the economic capital, Abidjan, journalists told CPJ. A public prosecutor read a three-page charge sheet to Aboa listing numerous anti-state crimes, including endangering state security and incitement to racial hatred, a source close to the case who spoke on condition of anonymity told CPJ.

The charges relate to Aboa's role as a moderator of a political talk show entitled Raison d'État ("National Interest") during the five-month long political crisis that followed disputed elections between President Alassane Ouattara and incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo. The program exclusively featured guests favorable to then-president Gbagbo, who controlled the station before he was ousted in April by forces loyal to Ouattara.

"The prosecution of Hermann Aboa for moderating a TV show contradicts President Ouattara's public pledges that pro-Gbagbo journalists would not be persecuted," said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. "We call for the immediate release of Aboa and the charges against him to be dropped."

For several weeks, the Ouattara government has been holding six other current and former journalists and media personalities among a group of 15 people, on anti-state charges allegedly for their militancy in favor of Gbagbo, according to news reports and CPJ research.

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