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Chadian Blogger Detained

Internet Without Borders reports that Jean Laokolé, a Chadian blogger and writer, was arrested on March 22 by security forces in N'Djamena, Chad's capital. In a petition released today (April 9), the advocacy group writes “[Laokolé] was arrested by a group of men in civilian clothes while he was driving with his family.” The petition calls for the blogger's “immediate and unconditional release.”

Laokolé writes under a pseudonym for one of Chad's most popular blogs. Since his arrest, Laokolé has been held without trial in an undisclosed location, explains Julie Owono, of Internet Without Borders’ Africa Desk. Owono writes:

Jean Laokolé contributed last year under an assumed name on the Chadian famous blog http://makaila.over-blog.com/. In his articles, he denounced corruption, poor governance and nepotism that prevail in this country located in the Central part of Africa. He was identified by the intelligence services.
Jean Laokolé (image courtesy Internet Without Borders)

Jean Laokolé (image courtesy Internet Without Borders)

Laokolé was last seen on March 25 near a military camp, known as “Amsinene camp.” Local human rights activists told Internet Without Borders that the camp is known to house political prisoners. In 2012, Amnesty International documented [PDF] routine human rights violations at Amsinene. According to Amnesty International, Laokolé comes from a politically active family that has been targeted by authorities in the past. His father, Jean-Baptise Laokolé, is a political opposition leader and vice chairs a coalition of opposition political parties. As for the possible motive behind Laokolé's arrest, Internet Without Borders writes:

According to various sources, including family members, police summoned Jean Laokolé…allegedly about an article published on a blog. He was suspected of bringing “false accusations” against a group of people who may [may have filed] a complaint against him. Negotiations for a compromise were underway between all the parties: They finally agreed that Jean Laokolé would write an apology on this blog and would also send a letter of apology to those likely to have been injured by the blog post. He planned to do so on Saturday, March 23.

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