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Abidjan Blog Camps: Théophile Kouamouo Has Been Released

Stéphane Guédé, Théophile Kouamouo and Saint Clavier Oula, the detained journalists. Image courtesy Richman.

Stéphane Guédé, Théophile Kouamouo and Saint Clavier Oula, the detained journalists. Image courtesy Richman.

The African blogosphere exploded with anger and concern when Théophile Kouamouo was arrested with his two colleagues of the Ivorian Daily Le Nouveau Courrier. Ivorian bloggers like Manasse Dehe used blog posts and Facebook groups to update latest information and spread the news to the world. Théophile, also the project manager of the Rising Voices grantee Abidjan Blog camps, was charged for refusing to name the source of a leaked report published in Le Nouveau Courrier describing the high profile embezzlement in the cocoa-coffee sector of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast).

The three journalists were freed on 26th of July after spending two-weeks in prison. Richman reports:

The law has spoken. A court sentenced the journalists to a fine of 5 million CFA (roughly $10,000 USD) and released. It is a punishment which fits over the press law rather than criminal matters where we had boarded the prosecutor, provoking disgust and shocking the world. The Ivorian court has restored the image that would harm the other.

Beyond the three journalists from The New Courier, the two other defendants in the entourage of attorney (his secretary and his communications advisor) have been released. The flight has not been demonstrated, the better the trial revealed the ignorance of computer security measures in the prosecutor's office, such as a confidential file had no protection due to his rank. (machine translation)

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Théophile Kouamouo and Saint-Clavier Oula talking to press after the release. Image courtesy Richman

John Henry Kwahulé at Nouvelle Afrique magazine says that Côte d'Ivoire is probably the only country in the world where journalists are imprisoned for publishing truthful information. He comments:

It is a verdict that makes a double mistake to the colleagues. So, after they have been deprived of liberty for two weeks, their newspaper will not appear for two weeks also. This is not fair. But then, why have them jailed?

Tim Newman at Change.org reports about international support for Théophile and his colleagues:

Over 1,150 activists on Change.org wrote to Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan to register concern about this attack on the freedom of the press. Last week, the U.S. Embassy issued a statement in response that expressed concern and emphasized the importance of press freedom.

Théophile Kouamouo thanks his fellow bloggers for the support and activism:

I'm browsing the web, and I'm aware of support and remarkable activism in the blogosphere, in addition to the natural relay that the press is “classic”. The blogosphere exists, and it may take flesh, beyond our thoughts “thrown” on the Web. I do not know what words can contain my gratitude to you all. I feel a great responsibility weighing on my shoulders. I have the duty to be better, more concerned with the interests of the community in my way of practicing journalism, worthy of the mobilization that was yours. (machine translation)

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