Ahmed Abba, Cameroon-based correspondent of Radio France Internationale,RFI, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for “failing to report acts of terrorism” and other charges.
The Cameroonian military tribunal on Monday April 23, sentenced Ahmed Abba, stating that evidence was found in Ahmed Abba’s computer showing he had been in contact with Boko Haram Islamist militants and that they had communicated information to him about future attacks.
Abba, who has been in jail since July 2015 over his reporting, could have faced the death penalty on the charges. Since his arrest, Abba has denied the charges, brought against him under an anti-terrorism law passed the year before.
Judge Edou Mewoutou also ordered him to pay a fine of 55 million F CFA and barred him from speaking to the media about the trial. Clement Nakong, Abba’s lawyer has said he would appeal the sentence.
Abba, who reported for RFI’s Hausa language service from Cameroon’s restive north, was arrested in the Maroua region in the far north, in July 2015, on suspicion of having collaborated with militant Islamist group Boko Haram and withholding information in connection with his coverage of attacks by the terrorist group from Cameroonian authorities.
Facing the death penalty over the alleged crimes, Abba says he was held and tortured by Cameroonian intelligence services for a period of three months before he was transferred to the prison in Yaoundé. Cameroon introduced capital punishment for involvement in terror attacks or complicity in terrorism in a controversial law passed in 2014.
Since his arrest, several rights groups including the Committee to Protect Journalists have condemned the act stating that covering terrorism as a reporter must not be equated with committing acts of terror.