Six journalists are currently languishing behind bars in Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast, after they were arrested on Monday for allegedly spreading false information and encouraging revolt, Deutsche Welle (DW) has reported.
The arrest has to do with the recent media reporting on a series of strikes and army mutinies mutinies over pay and bonuses that have been taking place across this cocoa-rich West African nation.
“Regarding recent action taken by the military … we have come to believe that certain media organisations are spreading false information in a bid to encourage soldiers to revolt,” public prosecutor Christophe Richard Adou said in a statement on Sunday.
Adou added that the journalists would be questioned to “find out where responsibility lies” for the alleged fake reporting.
He did not elaborate on the content of the articles.
Those arrested include Yacouba Gbane of Cyclone Group, which publishes the opposition daily newspaper Le Temps (The Time). Le Temps regularly questions the legitimacy of President Alassane Ouattara and his administration, and accuses him of human rights abuses.
Another target was the newspaper Notre Voie (Our Way), which often gets into legal trouble for its inflammatory rhetoric against Ivorian politicians. The fiery newspaper is associated with the centre-left Front Populaire Ivorien (FPI, the party of former president Laurent Gbagbo.
Gbagbo is currently on trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
Ivory Coast was ranked 86th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) 2016 World Press Freedom. Paris-based RSF said that though media freedom was now doing a lot better, the media have yet to achieve independence from the country’s political leaders.
(DW/dpa/Sifa News, final editing by Issa Sikiti)