Thursday, October 8, 2009

Newspaper editor threatened over corruption coverage

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders calls on President Paul Biya to publicly condemn a series of attempts to intimidate its Cameroon correspondent, Jules Koum Koum, who edits "Le Jeune Observateur", a weekly based in the southwestern city of Douala.

"In recent weeks, this respected journalist has published several detailed and well-researched reports on corruption implicating a number of prominent people," Reporters Without Borders said. "In so doing, he has helped Operation Sparrowhawk, an anti-corruption drive that is being promoted by President Biya himself."

The press freedom organisation added: "We urge all of Cameroon's partners, through the European Commission delegation and through their embassies, to support Jules Koum Koum, both in order to protect him and to encourage journalists who are helping to combat corruption."

In the most recent incident, several individuals tried to enter Koum's home at around 2 a.m. on 26 September 2009. Aroused by a noise, Koum alerted neighbours and thereby managed to scare the intruders away.

Three weeks before that, on the night of 1 September, several gunmen broke into his home and took a briefcase containing work documents and personal items. Following this incident, Reporters Without Borders wrote to national security chief Emmanuel Edou asking him to ensure that the safety of Koum and his family was guaranteed.

Someone meanwhile hacked into Koum's email account and that of his newspaper on 27 September. "My password was changed without my knowledge, with the result that I can no longer access my email," he said. A spam message in English has been sent several times to all his contacts. His two telephones are also being tapped, Reporters Without Borders has been told by several different local sources.

SOURCE:

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