Committee to Protect Journalists
Country Report: Equatorial Guinea
As of December 31, 1998

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Teodoro Obiang Nguema M'basogo came to power in a 1979 coup and immediately executed his uncle, the authoritarian ruler he deposed. M'basogo's dictatorial style of governance hasn't changed appreciably since then. This year, M'basogo allowed foreign journalists to cover a trial that offered a rare and uncomfortable window into the country's history of rule by iron fist. He may have believed this openness could help restore the international credibility and foreign aid the country lost in 1993 after he brutally cracked down on his political opposition.

The result was apparently not what authorities had expected. On May 31, eight foreign correspondents covering the trial of 117 citizens from the Bubi ethnic group were expelled from the country because authorities viewed their reports of irregularities in the proceedings and signs that the defendants had been tortured as "tendentious." The Bubi defendants are accused of secession for attacking government forces in January on Bioka, the oil-rich but impoverished island that they inhabit. For the foreseeable future, local journalists will continue to practice self-censorship in an environment rigidly intolerant of critical viewpoints, where the media are tightly controlled by the state.
Attacks on the Press in Equatorial Guinea in 1998
Date Journalist Incident
5/31/98 El Pais Expelled
5/31/98 La Vanguardia Expelled
5/31/98 El Heraldo de Aragon Expelled
5/31/98 EFE Expelled
5/31/98 TVE Expelled

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