Viewing cable 09CONAKRY331
Title: FAMILY PAYS TO FREE TORTURED JOURNALIST

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09CONAKRY3312009-06-11 07:09:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Conakry
VZCZCXRO6058
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHRY #0331/01 1620709
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 110709Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY CONAKRY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3735
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CONAKRY 000331 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KPAO XY GV
SUBJECT:  FAMILY PAYS TO FREE TORTURED JOURNALIST 
 
REF:  CONAKRY 00000309 
 
¶1.  Summary: On June 8 the PAO and press assistant met with Moise 
Sidibe, the Guinean journalist who was detained and tortured for 
more than a week by the CNDD (Reftel).  Sidibe described the events 
of the night of May 27 when he, his son and brother were arrested by 
a unit of the Ministry of Special Services, Anti-Drug and Grand 
Banditry, and held in custody at Camp Alpha Yaya.  Sidibe's family 
paid 4 million GNF ($800) for his and his brother's release.  End 
summary. 
 
¶2.  According to Sidibe, the gendarmes entered his neighborhood and 
began arresting people the night of May 27-28.  He said they 
particularly targeted foreigners and ex-pats, such as Lebanese and 
Pakistanis.  Sidibe himself is Vietnamese by birth.  (His adoptive 
Guinean father was in the French army during the French-Indochina 
war in the 1950s and brought Sidibe and his mother back to Guinea in 
1961.) 
 
¶3.  According to Sidibe, the gendarmes initially claimed that those 
that were being rounded up were suspected of drug-dealing.  Sidibe 
firmly denies that he had anything to do with the drug trade and 
stated that the gendarmes planted evidence of drugs at the 
motel-bar, owned by his wife, where he was arrested.  He said that 
after being taken into custody the gendarmes immediately began 
demanding money from him and the other detainees in exchange for 
their release.  He said that some of the other detainees paid large 
sums of money in order to secure their freedom. 
 
¶4.  Sidibe claims that the gendarmes holding him initially demanded 
250 million GNF from him (about $50,000).  Sidibe refused to pay. 
The captors then lowered their demand to 50 million GNF.  He said 
that the next day they began beating him with strips made from car 
tires as well as a metal pipe.  They shaved off part of his hair. 
Sidibe said that the gendarmes never spoke about the critical 
articles that he wrote in his newspaper, L'Independant.  He told the 
gendarmes that he was a journalist but they did not believe him. 
 
¶5.  As gendarmes submitted Sidibe to taunts and abuse, the U.S. 
Embassy increased its efforts to press the government to either free 
him from detention or formally bring charges against him.  On June 
4, PAO met with the president of the Conseil National de la 
Communication, Jean Raymond Soumah, to express concern for Sidibe. 
Soumah said that he and the Minister of Information and Culture, 
Justin Morel Junior, met with a group of journalists who spoke to 
them about Sidibe's situation.  The two promised to do what they 
could. 
 
¶6.  Soumah spoke to the editor of l'Independant in the PAO's 
presence to find out Sidibe's status and also spoke to one of 
Sidibe's close friends who was in contact with Sidibe.  Soumah 
obtained the cell phone number of the cell mate of Sidibe.  PAO 
managed to speak to Sidibe for a few seconds, just long enough to 
confirm that he had been beaten and tortured.  Sidibe later told PAO 
that phones were contraband but the phone had been smuggled in by a 
fellow prisoner. 
 
¶7.  The next day, June 5, Sidibe had still not been released.  PAO 
met with the Minister of Information and Culture to again express 
the concerns of the Embassy.  The Minister had to rush to a meeting 
with the Prime Minister but promised to discuss the matter with the 
Prime Minister and the Minsiter of Defense.  He said if Sidibe still 
were not released he would speak directly with the president of the 
CNDD, Dadis Camara.  Later that day the Embassy issued a press 
statement expressing deep concern over the treatment of Sidibe. 
Sidibe was released two hours later.  Sidibe said that his family 
paid approximately 4 million GNF ($800) to release him and his 
brother.  Sidibe's son had been released earlier in the week. 
 
¶8.  Sidibe described the detention facility at Camp Alpha Yaya as 
being extremely crowded.  He said that the ex-pats paid several 
million GNF for their release as did some of the other prisoners. 
He also noted that he spoke with the body guards of two Generals 
from the Conte regime, Diara Camara and Ali Daffe, and was told the 
Generals were being held on the second floor.  Sidibe, who describes 
himself as a teacher as well as a journalist, also said the facility 
was filled to overflowing with students.  They were accused of 
throwing rocks at the vehicles of the CNDD during a demonstration in 
the Bambeto area.  Sidibe said that the only condition for their 
release was the payment of cash by their families to their captors. 
 
 
¶9.  Comment:  It is not clear whether Sidibe's outspoken articles 
criticizing the government had anything to do with his arrest.  It 
appears more probable that his arrest and detentions were the result 
of an effort by the CNDD to shake people down in his neighborhood. 
As Sidibe's family paid for his release we may never know whether or 
not the Embassy's efforts would have been effective on their own. 
However, it is clear that the Guinean government was aware at the 
highest levels of the Embassy's concern.  Sidibe himself said that 
 
CONAKRY 00000331  002 OF 002 
 
 
he was greatly encouraged when he heard that the Embassy was making 
inquiries on his behalf.  As long as families continue to pay large 
sums of money for their detained loved ones, these arrests will 
continue to provide a steady stream of income.  It is unclear 
whether these revenues are going into government coffers or private 
pockets, or both.   End comment. 
RASPOLIC