Equatorial Guinea frees journalists held after judge interview

Two journalists held by police after they interviewed a suspended judge in Equatorial Guinea have been released without charge, one of them said on Monday.

Equatorial Guinea has one of the world’s worst records for media rights, ranking 165th out of 180 on the 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF.

Melanio Nkogo and Ruben Dario Bacale, who work at the oil-rich nation’s only privately-owned TV station Asonga, spent 12 days in detention after broadcasting an interview with a judge, Nazario Oyono.

Oyono was suspended last month by the Supreme Court’s President, David Nguema Obiang, amid a dispute between the pair who accuse each other of preventing an embezzlement trial.

Nkogo said he believes that he and his colleague were held in a bid to “intimidate” them.

“We are free and will continue to work as journalists to provide objective information,” he told AFP.

Media watchdog RSF said the case “shows the extreme vulnerability of journalists” working in the country.

Nkogo said he believes the country’s president and vice-president intervened in order to secure his release.

Asonga’s owner is the son of Equatorial Guinea’s iron-fisted President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled for 40 years.

It is widely believed that the son, Teodorin Nguema Obiang, is being groomed for his succession.