BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
LONDON- After serving more than five months in a Malabo jail on false charges of money laundering and counterfeiting, Equatorial Guinea cartoonist and blogger Ramón Nsé Esono Ebalé were freed from prison on March 7th.
“We are pleased that Ramón Nsé Esono Ebalé is free, but the fact that he was acquitted after the state’s chief witness recanted underscores the point that authorities manufactured these charges in the first place,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal.
Judge Agustín Chicampo Barila, of the Malabo Provincial Chamber, acquitted Ebalé after the state’s main witness, a policeman, recanted under cross-examination on February 27 and said he had only been following orders when he implicated Ebalé in criminal activity, said Tutu Alicante, executive director of EG Justice, a U.S. based organization advocating for human rights in Equatorial Guinea.
Ebalé, known by the pen name Jamón y Queso, was arrested on September 16 and interrogated by police about his work as a cartoonist.
“This prison stint was straight up retaliation for Ebalé’s cartoons and blogs that were critical of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.” Added the Committee to Protect Journalists.