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Gambia: CPJ calls for release of cartoonist in Equatorial Guinea

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BANJUL, Gambia, October 7 (Infosplusgabon) -  Authorities in Equatorial Guinea should immediately release cartoonist and blogger Ramón Nsé Esono Ebalé, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Saturday.

 

In a statement, made available to Infosplusgabon, the press freedom watchdog indicated that the cartoonist had been held without charge for weeks.

 

Ebalé, who is known by the pen name Jamón y Queso, was arrested with two friends on September 16, 2017, around 7:00 pm by three men who identified themselves as security personnel.

 

According to CPJ, the friends, who are both Spanish nationals, were quickly released.

 

Ebalé's drawings and his blog feature critical commentary on President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and the Equatoguinean government, and have been blocked by authorities.

 

The blog, LocosTV, was founded in 2011 and originally published under the title Las locuras de Jamón y Queso.

 

"It is outrageous that Ramón Nsé Esono Ebalé should be snatched off the streets of Equatorial Guinea and jailed for weeks just because he writes or draws critically about the country's top public figure," remarked CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal.

 

"We call on authorities to release him immediately."

 

The statement noted that Ebalé and his friends were stopped, handcuffed, and had their mobile phones seized while getting into Ebalé's sister's car after leaving a restaurant in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea.

 

The men took them to the police station where police interrogated Ebalé about his work as a cartoonist, specifically his online drawings of Obiang.

 

Police told Ebalé's friends that he was the target of their arrest and that he needed to make a statement explaining his drawings and blog posts about the Equatoguinean leadership.

 

Ebalé is accused of money laundering and counterfeiting, allegations that he denies.

 

CPJ said the cartoonist appeared in court October 3 and gave a statement before a judge, after which he was taken back to prison.

 

Having lived outside of Equatorial Guinea for years, Ebalé had returned to apply for a passport so that he could join his wife and one of his children in El Salvador, the statement disclosed.

 

FIN/INFOSPLUSGABON/OPM/GABON 2017

 

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