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Journalist faces charges for reporting on soldiers' alleged involvement in drug trafficking

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 3 September 2007 IFJ media release:

IFJ Urges President of Guinea-Bissau to Support Journalists Reporting on Drug Trafficking

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today wrote to President Joao Bernardo Vieira of Guinea Bissau urging him to put an end to the harassment of journalists reporting on drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau.

"We are dismayed that one reporter who interpreted for ITN News, a British television station investigating drug trafficking, has been charged with libel after the head of the navy filed a complaint against him," wrote Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. "Threats against another reporter who has written about the drug trade have pushed him into hiding."

Albert Dabo, a journalist working with Reuters and the private radio station Bombolom FM, was charged on August 29th with libel, violating state secrets, libellous denunciation, abusing press freedom and colluding with foreign journalists. This follows a complaint lodged against him by the chief of the national navy, Rear Admiral Jose Américo Bubo Na Tchuto. Rear Admiral Na Tchuto says Mr. Dabo falsely attributed to him the allegation that soldiers are implicated in drug trafficking during an interview for ITN News, a British television station for which Dabo acted as an interpreter. According to Dabo, none of the media outlets where he works carried this interview.

The IFJ believes that the charges against Mr. Dabo are totally baseless and we fear that he will not receive a fair trial.

The IFJ called on President Vieira to urge Rear Admiral Na Tchuto to withdraw his charges and stop military threats against Dabo, who has been receiving death threats since June. Because of the seriousness of these threats, Dabo was briefly forced into hiding.

In another case, Allen Yero Emballo, correspondent for Radio International France and for news agency Agence France Presse, fled Guinea-Bissau more than a month ago out of fear for his safety after his home was burglarised and he was threatened. Emballo found his home burglarised when he returned from an assignment in the archipelago of Bijagos, south of the capital. He was there to investigate packages suspected of holding drugs that had been dropped from airplanes.

"By protecting and supporting journalists who are disclosing the illegal drug trade in your country, you will be promoting press freedom and declaring to the public that the government does not support drug trafficking," Baglo said.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries.

To read the full text of IFJ's letter to President Joao Bernardo Vieira:
http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=5267&Language=EN

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