Republic of Congo releases Bemba after nearly 18 months without charge

New York, July 3, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists today welcomed the release after nearly 18 months in prison without charge of Ghys Fortuné Dombé Bemba, editor of the privately owned newspaper Talassa, in Brazzaville. CPJ urged authorities in the Republic of Congo not to pursue further legal action against him and to ensure that all journalists are able to report without fear of reprisal.

« Ghys Fortuné Dombé Bemba’s release from detention in Brazzaville is long overdue as he should not have been jailed in the first place, » said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator. « No journalist should be detained or arrested in connection with their reporting–let alone held for more than a year without charge. »

Bemba was released one day after a Congolese appeals court ordered that he be freed, Jean Philippe Esseau, one of the journalist’s lawyers, told CPJ. He had been jailed since his arrest on January 11, 2017, and accused of « complicity in undermining state security, » according to CPJ research. In recent years, CPJ has documented other steps taken by Congolese authorities that limit press freedom, including a communications blackout during the 2016 presidential election.

Over 100 people also wrote personalized postcards to Bemba as part of CPJ’s 2018 #FreeThePress campaign.

Originally posted on CPJ website July 3, 2018 4:24 PM ET

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