Blogger Detained Incommunicado, Fears for Health
International PEN protests the detention of the U.S.-based blogger Jonathan Elendu, who has been held incommunicado without charge in Abuja since October 17, 2008. There are fears for his health following reports of ill-treatment. PEN believes that Elendu has been detained for his critical reporting on Nigeria, and calls on the Nigerian authorities to either charge Elendu with a recognizable criminal offense or release him immediately and unconditionally.
On October 17, Jonathan Elendu, a U.S.-based Nigerian news blogger for Elendureports.com, was arrested by the State Security Service (SSS) on his arrival in Abuja for a family visit. He has reportedly not yet been charged, in contravention of Nigerian law, which stipulates that anyone arrested must be charged in court within 48 hours. He has also been denied access to legal and medical assistance.
Initially investigated for “money laundering,” Elendu was then reportedly accused of unspecified "acts of sedition." He has now apparently been transferred from SSS custody to that of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which may suggest that he still faces a charge of money laundering or corruption.
Some reports suggest that Elendu has been ill-treated and that his health is in jeopardy. On October 28, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) stated that Elendu had been “tortured to disclose the sources of several embarrassing news reports on prominent political leaders in Nigeria," and had gone on hunger strike.
Elendureports.com, set up by Elendu in 2005 in the state of Michigan, is one of a number of diaspora-run web sites on Nigeria that frequently publish controversial stories about Nigerian politicians, corruption, the situation in the conflict area of the Niger Delta, and other sensitive subjects in Nigeria. The site’s articles are reportedly often based on anonymous sources. During the 2007 Nigerian election campaign, Elendureports.com erroneously reported that President Umaru Yar'Adua had died during a medical trip to Germany.
Elendu is also accused of writing for another U.S.-based Nigerian news web site, Saharareporters.com, which the Nigerian authorities have reportedly described as “guerrilla journalism.” Saharareporters.com has reportedly denied that Elendu works for them.
Write A Letter
- Protesting the incommunicado detention without charge of U.S.-based Nigerian blogger Jonathan Elendu since October 17, 2008, for his critical reporting on Nigeria, in violation of his right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is a signatory;
- Calling on the Nigerian authorities either to charge Elendu with a recognizable criminal offense and release him on bail pending trial, or to release him immediately and unconditionally;
- Asking the authorities to ensure that Elendu is not ill-treated or tortured while he remains in detention, and that he receives access to adequate legal and medical assistance.
Send Your Letter To
Office of the Vice President
Fax: +234-9-2341733/ +234 9 314 8793
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative of Nigeria in your country if possible.
Please check with PEN if sending appeals after November 29, 2008: ftw [at] pen.org