- Dimas Dzikodo and Philip Evégnon, editor-in-chief and editor, respectively, of the private weekly 'L'Evénement', as well as Colombo Kpakpabia, a journalist with the private weekly 'Nouvel Echo', were arrested by police officers on 14 and 15 June 2003.
- They have since been detained and questioned at national police headquarters in the capital, Lomé, according to information received by the Paris-based media watchdogs Reporters sans Frontičres (RSF). The journalists have been accused of "distributing false news" with the intent of damaging the country's reputation.
RSF in a statement yesterday condemned the three journalists' prolonged detention. The group further noted that the journalists had not been officially charged and demands their immediate release.
Both 'L'Evénement' and 'Le Nouvel Echo' are reported to be "close to the opposition," RSF says. The Togolese government has a long record of victimising both the political opposition and the remnants of an independent press.
- The Togolese authorities aren't fooling anyone, RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard said in a statement. "These arrests clearly demonstrate their desire to continue repressing the country's independent media, which is the only outlet for the expression of dissenting opinions in the country," Mr Ménard said.
RSF also recalled that President Gnassingbé Eyadéma was included on the organisation's list of international press freedom predators for his government's repeated attacks on journalists and media.
Mr Dzikodo was arrested on 14 June at around 7:00 p.m. (local time) at a cybercafé, where he was scanning photographs of persons who were allegedly beaten up by police officers and militiamen of the ruling party, Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais (RPT), during the last presidential election.
The journalist had planned to post the photographs on the website of the opposition party Union des forces du changement, RSF was informed by its Lomé sources. Police officers thus had questioned him at length and also searched his home.
The next day, police had arrested Mr Evégnon on the pretext that he had asked Dzikodo to carry out this work.
Mr Kpakpabia was also arrested at a cybercafé while sending similar images over the Internet to le togolais.com, a news website launched by Togolese expatriates residing in Canada.
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