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Equatorial Guinean activist detained without charge over political cartoons

Equatorial Guinean activist detained without charge over political cartoons

Equatorial Guinea

An Equatorial Guinean activist and political cartoonist has been detained since Saturday night without charge in Malabo over his work that features the president and government officials.

Ramón Nsé Esono Ebalé and two Spanish nationals were arrested by three security officials outside a restaurant. The Spanish nationals were later released after hours of interrogation about their connection with Ebale, Human Rights Watch reported.

The rights body fears the cartoonist may be charged with criminal defamation for his work that criticizes the president and government officials.

Family members were allowed to see him on Monday and Tuesday at the Office Against Terrorism and Dangerous Activities in the Central Police Station where he has been detained and interrogated for the over 72-hour limit required by the law.

“Ebalé has lived outside of Equatorial Guinea for several years and had returned to the country to renew his passport. He has not been taken before a judge, which Equatoguinean law requires within 24 hours,” Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.

“Prosecuting a cartoonist for unflattering satirical drawings is incompatible with free speech and only highlights the power of the pen,” said Sarah Saadoun, researcher at Human Rights Watch.

The Human Rights Watch calls on President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his government to release Ramón Nsé Esono Ebalé immediately if there is no other crime levelled against him; and to repeal the defamation statute which allows the criminal prosecution of the government’s critics.

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