Second U.S.-Based Internet Writer Released
International PEN welcomes the release without charge of the U.S.-based Internet writer Emmanuel Emeka Asiwe, who was held incommunicado from October 28 to November 4, 2008 due to his critical reporting on Nigeria.
Emmanuel Emeka Asiwe, editor of the web site HuhuOnline, based in Arlington, Massachusetts, was arrested by the State Security Service (SSS) upon his arrival at Lagos airport on October 28. He was held incommunicado without charge in Abuja for a week, during which he was questioned about “matters of national security.” He was reportedly released without charge on November 4. However, his passport was not returned to him, preventing him from returning to the U.S.
Asiwe was the second U.S.-based Nigerian Internet writer to be arrested by the SSS and detained incommunicado in October. On October 17, Jonathan Elendu of Elendureports.com was arrested on his arrival in Abuja for a family visit and detained incommunicado without charge for 11 days before being provisionally released without charge on October 29. He was reportedly questioned about his alleged links to another U.S.-based Nigerian news web site, Saharareporters.com, his sources and funding, and his opinions on the Nigerian president, as well as articles he had written on the president’s health. He was denied legal and medical assistance for most of his detention, only gaining access to his lawyer ten days after his arrest. Some reports suggested that the writer was ill-treated during his detention. His travel documents also remain confiscated.
Both detentions are in contravention of Nigerian law, which stipulates that anyone arrested must be charged in court within 48 hours. They are reportedly part of a government crackdown on foreign-based Nigerian political web sites since the publication of controversial photos of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s son by a popular news blog.
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Thank you to all who sent appeals on Emmanuel Emeka Asiwe's behalf.