Togo journalist freed after ‘fake news’ arrest ahead of voteWed, 10 Apr 2024 11:50:50 GMT

The editor of a Togolese newspaper detained over a report about the death of a supporter of President Faure Gnassingbe was released on Tuesday, his lawyer said.The arrest of Apollinaire Mewenemesse, 71, who is editor of La Depeche, heightened fears of a press clampdown ahead of elections.He was arrested on March 28 in connection with an article questioning a general’s conviction in the murder of an Gnassingbe ally.He faces seven charges, including “publication of fake news” with the aim of inciting the public or the military to rise up against the state.”Apollinaire Mewenemesse is released under judicial supervision. We requested the release today after his questioning,” lawyer Darius Kokou Atsoo told AFP.Reporters without Borders had called for his immediate release, condemning his detention as “disproportionate”.Togo will hold legislative elections on April 29 after delaying the ballot over a contested constitutional reform.The constitutional amendment has triggered discussion over the rule of Gnassingbe.He has been in power since 2005 after succeeding his father, who governed for three decades following a military coup.La Depeche was suspended for three months on March 4 over the February 28 article that questioned a court’s conviction of army head General Felix Abalo Kadangha, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Kadangha was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder of Lieutenant Colonel Bitala Madjoulba, a fervent Gnassingbe supporter who was found dead the day after the 2020 inauguration.The article compared Kadangha’s case to that of wrongly convicted French Jewish army captain Alfred Dreyfus in the late 19th century.