February 10, 2009

President Paul Biya
Fax: +237 22 22 08 70
Email: cellcom@prc.com

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice
Mr. Amadou Ali
Fax: +237 22 23 00 05

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to protest the sentence of Détente Libre journalist and publisher Lewis Medjo.

According to our information, on January 7, 2009, Lewis Medjo was found guilty of “spreading false news” in relation to an article regarding President Biya . Mr. Medjo was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of approximately Euro 3,000. He had already been detained for three and a half months.

On September 22, 2008, Lewis Medjo was arrested by the head of the provincial judiciary police as he left a dinner organized by a central government representative in Douala. He was taken to the judiciary police headquarters and questioned about two articles published in his weekly newspaper last August. One of the pieces reportedly stated that President Biya was going to force the president of the Supreme Court to take early retirement. The other carried allegations that the head of the national police criminal investigation department tried to bribe a wealthy businessman for the return of his son’s passport.

PEN American Center believes Lewis Medjo has been convicted  in violation of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Cameroon is a signatory. We therefore respectfully call for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all others held in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H.E. Mr. Jerome Mendouga
Ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon to the U.S.
2349 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20008
Fax: (202) 387-3826

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