Equatorial Guinea's minister of information, press and radio, Agustin Nzé Nfumu, has written to Reporters Without Borders in response to its 4 January press release about the death of media freedom activist Manuel Nsé Nsongo.
Republic of Equatorial Guinea
January 7, 2012
Dear Sirs and Madames:
I was negatively surprised to read your recent statement of concern about the death of Manuel Nze Nsongo, my very good friend of many years and the godfather to one of my children. Manuel's unexpected death was a painful blow to his many friends in Equatorial Guinea, including many people in government who had collaborated and worked with him over the years.
But the insinuation by Reporters Without Borders that Manuel may have been poisoned by the government is baseless and unfair, and the facts you cite to support your insinuation are wrong.
Specifically, I did not have a "working lunch" with Manuel. I had an official meeting with him in my office, in the presence of two representatives of UNESCO and my chief of staff. Two days later, in a public ceremony at the Equatoguinean Cultural Center, we opened a seminar together on HIV/AIDS awareness for journalists.
Manuel fell ill ten days later, and we did not see each other during those ten days.
I appreciate your organization's advocacy of a free press, and I am committed to the development of a more professional press in Equatorial Guinea. But I believe an organization like Reporters Without Borders, which has established itself as a defender of the journalism profession, should set an example for seriousness, integrity and truth. I am deeply offended personally--a sense of offense that I share with my government--t have been indirectly accused through a baseless and reckless insinuation of responsibility for my friend's death.
Moreover, the journalism profession maintains its standing as a source of information by adhering to very high standards for seriousness and fairness, but speculation, insinuation and cynicism of the sort contained in your statement can only reinforce the cynicism and suspicion that exists in some quarters about the press. After all, if an organization like yours can engage in such sensationalism, what can one expect of journalists with much less experience, preparation, and professionalism?
Agustin Nze Nfumu