Maputo — The police command in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado on Tuesday confirmed that journalist Amade Abubacar has been detained - but refused to say why he had been arrested or where he was being held.
At a press conference in the provincial capital, Pemba, the spokesperson for the provincial command, Augusto Guta, gave a terse statement, declaring "we confirm the detention of this journalist, but because of the delicacy of the detention and of the case itself, right now we cannot give any details".
Journalists would have to wait for "a better opportunity" to find out more about Abubacar's detention.
Guta refused to say why the case was "delicate", and gave that most threadbare of police excuses: "Right now we are working". He would not comment on Abubacar's state of health, and even refused to answer a question as to whether the journalist was alive or dead.
Although Guta would not say so, it is now known that Abubacar is being held illegally at the military barracks in the town of Mueda, although he was seized in his home district of Macomia. Detaining civilians in a military facility is illegal.
Abubacar was detained on 5 January, when he had been photographing families fleeing from raids by terrorist gangs in the interior of Macomia.
According to a report in Wednesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Mediafax", the military are attempting to tie Abubacar to the terrorist attacks because his list of contacts included individuals who supplied information about the attacks. He had photos on his phone which had apparently been sent to him by the insurgent group.
None of this proves that Abubacar was involved in terrorist activities. In any case, if he is suspected of a crime, the case should be in the hands of the Public Prosecutor's Office, not the military, and he should also have the right to a defence lawyer.
Abubacar is a well known and experienced journalist, who had been working at the Nacedje community radio in Macomia since 2009. The radio is owned by the Mass Communication Institute (ICS), which is a public body.
The ICS delegate in Cabo Delgado, Paulo Cazimoto, told "Mediafax" he was still trying to find out what had really happened to his colleague.
"Because we have no official information, we are working to find out what happened to our colleague and where he is. We have to know the reasons for this", he said. "It is not true that we have abandoned our colleague".
But Abubacar's family has complained of lack of collaboration from the ICS.