A female newspaper deputy editor in Gabon has claimed that she was tortured in custody by security forces who wanted to know the author of an article published on Tuesday 2 November in her newspaper Echos du Nord (Northern Echoes), local and international media reports said.
Raissa Oyasseko, who was released on Saturday, told Agence France-Presse: “I was severely tortured. They tied me up, beat me several times on my feet, thighs and buttocks.
“They wanted to have the password to my email, know the author of the article and the name of his informant.”
Heavily armed security forces in plainclothes on Thursday stormed the Libreville-based headquarters of Nord Editions media group, and arrested everyone, including nine journalists, tea makers, cleaning staff and office administrators.
Oyasseko was subsequently arrested at her home the following day. All have since been detained at the Direction Générale de Documentation et de l’Immigration (DGDI, intelligence services) to be questioned over an article that claimed that the DGDI head had been arrested.
Thirteen of the 14 people arrested were released on Friday, while Oyasseko remained behind and continued to be tortured, Gabon Media Time reported on Friday.
Weekly newspaper Echos du Nord is owned by Nord Editions alongside another weekly Faits Divers. Echos du Nord publisher Désiré Ename who lives in exile in France since 2014 has condemned the journalists’ arrest and Oyasseko torture.
“We cannot force journalists to reveal their sources. They scanned their phones to see their contacts,” Ename was quoted by Voice of America Online as saying.
“We will take legal action, this is not a normal procedure,” Ename, who fled the country after he and his colleague were arrested, added.
Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), Reporters without Borders, has condemned the attack on the media personnel, saying that it was an act of intolerable violence against the freedom of information.
Tensions have been rising in this oil-rich Central African nation since President Ali Bongo Ondimba was controversially re-elected last month in a violence-prone election the European Union and opposition parties said was plagued by gross irregularities.
Photo: Echos du Nord deputy editor Raissa Oyasseko (l) with her lawyer after her release from jail on Saturday. Credit: FB, ‘les Gabonais de la Honte’