Swiss, French journalists arrested in Gabon
Olivier Pronthus and Johan Morel are accused of posing as tourists to report a story.LIBREVILLE - Police in Gabon arrested two European journalists on Tuesday, accusing them of posing as tourists to uncover a story on French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
"They arrived on 5 February as tourists.... They must answer (charges of) bypassing procedure", Gabon Communication Minister Laure Olga Gondjout told AFP.
The pair were named on Gabon television as French journalist Pierre Johan Morel and Swiss photographer Olivier Pronthus. The report said they were detained as they tried to leave the country.
Gondjout said Morel and Pronthus first asked for journalist visas to visit Gabon and do a story on Kouchner. When they were refused they lied to get tourist visas, she said.
"I can only deplore that. It's a bypass of procedure, a usurpation of status, of function".
Both Morel and Pronthus work for CAPA (Chabalier Associated Press Agency), a photojournalism news agency which specialises in long reportages and documentaries.
Kouchner spoke at the French parliament earlier in February to reject accusations made in a new book of his unethical ties to African regimes, particularly in Gabon.
The alleged attempt by the European journalists to deceive the Gabonese authorities drew an angry response from Jean-Pascal Ndong, president for the central African region of the International Union of Francophone Press (UIPF).
"These two pseudo-tourists had already, according to the information that has reached me, sought visas to come to Gabon as journalists.
"As it happened, these visas were refused. So, they bypassed the administration of the chancellery of Gabon (in Paris) by presenting themselves as tourists", he said.
[AFP / Expatica]