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AFP correspondent held for five hours by police in Malabo

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned the five-hour detention of Samuel Obiang Mbana, correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Africa n°1 radio, at the police station in the capital Malabo on 14 April 2010.

The journalist was arrested at Malabo international airport where he had gone to cover arrivals for an extraordinary summit of heads of state of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).

"It is unacceptable that security forces should prevent this journalist from covering CEMAC heads of state arriving in Malabo," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"Is Obiang Mbana, Equatorial Guinea's sole correspondent for the foreign press, going to end up like his predecessor, who was demonised and attacked because of the authorities' mistrust of the foreign press?" it asked, referring to Rodrigo Angue Nguema whom he replaced as AFP correspondent in October 2009.

Angue Nguema was held for four months in Black Beach prison over a defamation case brought against him by the head of the national airline Ceiba.

Obiang Mbana was arrested by presidential security agents at the airport and told by the head of presidential security that he should have had accreditation to cover the arrivals. He was taken to Malabo police station and held for five hours before being released.

"The authorities have never required journalists to have a special accreditation for the arrival of presidents at the airport. I am the only journalist to have been arrested even though I have been accredited by my press employer. The authorities want to stop me from working freely," the journalist told Reporters Without Borders.

In another recent case, Pedro Luis Esono, a journalist on state-run radio in Bata (on the mainland of Equatorial Guinea), was arrested and held for three days, between 8-10 February this year, after reporting on the air the discovery of seven bodies at one of the city's dumps.

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