July 30, 2015
Radio France Internationale
Ahmed Abba, a correspondent for Radio France Internationale's (RFI) Hausa service, was arrested as he left a press briefing at the office of a local governor in Maroua, the capital of Cameroon's far north region, on July 30, 2015, according to RFI. He was taken to the capital, Yaoundé. The journalist was denied access to his lawyer until October 19, RFI told CPJ. Officials did not take a statement from Abba until November 13, more than three months after his arrest, which is against the law, according to news reports that cited his lawyers.
RFI cited one of the journalist's lawyers, Charles Tchoungang, as saying Abba was interrogated in relation to the activities of the extremist sect Boko Haram, which has renamed itself the Islamic State in West Africa.
Abba's trial began on February 29, 2016, according to reports that cited Tchoungang and a second lawyer, Nakong Clement. A military tribunal charged the journalist with complicity in acts of terrorism and failure to denounce acts of terrorism under the country's 2014 anti-terrorism law, news reports said. According to prosecutors, Abba did not inform authorities he had been in contact with members of Boko Haram. The maximum sentence for the charges is the death penalty.
Abba pleaded not guilty at a hearing on August 3, 2016. He will appear in court again on February 23, 2017.
RFI reported that Abba mostly covered refugee issues in the region but had also covered attacks carried out by Boko Haram. In a statement issued in June 2016, RFI said Abba's reporting had been professional and called for his immediate release.
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