Beninese journalist Ignace Sossou was released on Wednesday after six months in custody. He had been sentenced to prison for “harassment”, after posting comments on his Facebook and Twitter pages attributed to the prosecutor in a critical tone.
He was sentenced to six months in prison. In Benin, investigative journalist Ignace Sossou was released on Wednesday, June 24, an AFP journalist noted.
“I’m a free man,” the journalist said, adding that he did not want to comment on the procedure. “The case is still in the courts and I can’t afford to say more,” he said.
The journalist, who had been convicted of an appeal to six months of business and six months suspended, with a fine of 500,000 CFA francs (about EUR 762), appealed to the Cassation Court.
“The fight is not over, we will continue with it,” said his lawyer Me Brice Houssou. “The most important thing was that he first got his freedom because of the spirit of the laws of the Republic of Benin, is that the journalist should never end up in jail for his writings or for his professional work,” he stressed.
Critical comments from the government
Ignace Sossou had been arrested on December 19, 2019 at his home by parts of the Central Office for the Suppression of Cyber Crime, before being placed under arrest in late December.
The journalist had posted the words to prosecutor Mario Metonou the day before on his Facebook and Twitter pages, while speaking at a conference organized in Cotonou by the French Media Development Agency (CFI, dependent on the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to discuss “fake news “
The forwarded comments seemed rather critical of the Beninese government’s approach to freedom of expression. “The internet break on (legislative) election day on April 28 is a recognition of weakness on the part of the government,” said the prosecutor, who did not publish a denial afterwards.
Ignace Sossou works for the online media Benin Web TV and collaborates with several collectives such as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and 3i Network (Initiative, Impact, Investigation).
President Patrice Talon, elected in April 2016, is regularly accused of having made an authoritarian change in this country, which is usually hailed for the dynamics of its democracy. Its main opponent is currently living abroad, targeted by legal cases in Benin.