Guinea Media Crackdown: Arrests, Hacks, Website Closure

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Guinea Media Crackdown: Arrests, Hacks, Website Closure

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is deeply concerned about the recent crackdown on the media in Guinea, which has escalated in the past 48 hours. The authorities have arrested nine journalists, besieged the House of the Press, hacked two radio stations, and suspended a news website and its editor.

This comes after two months of increased media censorship in the country. The journalists were trapped inside the House of the Press for over eight hours before being released. RSF calls for an immediate end to this climate of terror and urges the authorities to allow journalists and media to operate freely.

Guinea Media Crackdown

Guinea Media Crackdown: Arrests, Hacks, Website Closure

House of Press besieged

Over the past 48 hours, Guinea’s authorities have undertaken a disturbing and systematic crackdown on the media. Journalists have been arrested, the House of Press has been besieged, radio stations have been pirated, and a news website has been closed.

This comes on the heels of two months of escalating media censorship in the country. The climate of terror that has been imposed on the media is deeply concerning and threatens the fundamental principles of press freedom and freedom of expression.

Journalists arrested

During preparations for a protest against the recent jamming of radio stations and restrictions on internet access, gendarmes attempted to storm the House of Press in the capital city, Conakry. Around 30 journalists were trapped inside the building, surrounded by police and pickup trucks blocking access.

Despite the attempts to break in, the journalists managed to safely exit the premises later in the evening. However, nine journalists who were outside the building at the time of the incident were detained by gendarmes.

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Six were taken to the gendarmerie barracks in Dixinn, while the other three were taken to the investigation division’s headquarters in the Conakry suburb of Kipé. After being questioned, all nine journalists were released late in the evening. The arrests and confinement of journalists are clear violations of their right to freedom of expression and the press.

Radio stations pirated

In addition to the arrests and attacks on journalists, two prominent radio stations, Espace FM and FIM FM, have been targeted. Their signals have been jammed since the end of November, along with Djoma FM and Évasion.

The director of FIM FM, Talibé Barry, revealed that their transmitter had been shut off and their studios closed for two months. Despite the radio stations being off the air, the same military music paying homage to the army has been continuously broadcast. This act of piracy not only silences independent voices but also replaces them with nationalist propaganda.

Website closure

One of Guinea’s leading news sites, Mosaïque Guinée, has been blocked since January 2nd, 2024. The publisher, Mohamed Bangoura, initially believed it was a technical issue until realizing that they had been deliberately disconnected. The site, known for its independent and uncompromising editorial policy, had already faced blockages in May 2023. The deliberate closure of the website is a clear attack on freedom of the press and the public’s right to access information.

Background

To fully understand the gravity of the current media crackdown in Guinea, it is important to consider the country’s media environment and the previous incidents of media censorship. Guinea has long struggled with media freedom, with incidents of censorship and intimidation targeting journalists and media outlets. However, the recent escalation marks a worrying trend of tightening restrictions and increasing attacks on press freedom.

Arrests

The detention of nine journalists, the confinement of others, and the attempted storming of the House of Press paint a bleak picture of the current situation in Guinea. Journalists have been targeted simply for doing their job and exercising their right to freedom of expression. The conditions at the House of Press during the siege further highlight the climate of fear and intimidation imposed on the media.

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Guinea Media Crackdown: Arrests, Hacks, Website Closure

Radio Piracy

The pirating of radio stations, such as Espace FM and FIM FM, is a blatant act of censorship. By jamming their signals and replacing content with military music, the authorities aim to control the narrative and eliminate independent voices in the media landscape.

Website Closure

The blocking of Mosaïque Guinée, a popular news site, represents a targeted attack on the digital space and the freedom of the press. Publisher Mohamed Bangoura has been left in the dark about the reasons behind the closure, adding to the overall climate of uncertainty and intimidation.

Suspension of News Site

The suspension of Depecheguinee.com and its publisher, Abdoul Latif Diallo, further compounds the erosion of press freedom in Guinea. The article implicating the central bank governor and the finance minister in alleged embezzlement seems to have been the trigger for the suspension. However, this is not the first time Diallo and his website have faced such punitive measures.

Tightening Restrictions

Guinea has witnessed a series of actions aimed at suppressing media freedom. The arrest and expulsion of a French journalist, Thomas Dietrich, highlights the dangers faced by international journalists seeking to report on critical issues. The removal of TV channels from satellite packages and the blocking of social media access further limit access to independent information and contribute to a climate of censorship.

Implications for Media Freedom

The media crackdown in Guinea has severe consequences for media freedom in the country. Journalists are being targeted, critical voices are silenced, and independent media outlets are forcibly closed. The responsibility lies with the government to uphold and protect the right to freedom of expression and the press.

Government’s Responsibility

The government of Guinea needs to recognize its responsibility to protect press freedom and the right to access information. The actions taken against journalists and media outlets are clear violations of international human rights standards. Safer and more enabling environments for media professionals must be established, and barriers to freedom of expression must be dismantled.

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International Response

The international community must condemn the media crackdown in Guinea and call for an immediate end to the suppression of press freedom. International organizations, governments, and civil society actors should urge the Guinean authorities to respect human rights, including freedom of expression and the press.

Support for Press Freedom

Media freedom is a crucial pillar of democracy and must be protected. One way individuals can support press freedom is by contributing to organizations like Reporters Without Borders (RSF). RSF works tirelessly to defend journalists worldwide and advocate for media freedom. Donations, membership, and support for RSF’s publications are vital in the fight against media censorship and suppression.

In conclusion, the media crackdown in Guinea represents a serious threat to press freedom and the right to access independent information. The arrests, radio piracy, website closures, and tightening restrictions highlight the urgent need to protect and promote media freedom in the country. The government, international community, and individuals must take a stand and support press freedom in Guinea.

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