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Côte d'Ivoire: Hackers Threaten Intelligence Agency Upon Arrest of Journalist

Managing editor of Ivorian newspaper Le Patriote, Charles Sanga, was arrested on January 31, 2012 after his newspaper revealed that the Constitutional Court of Côte d'Ivoire decided to annul results of the recent Parliamentary Elections in 11 districts. Ivorian newspaper Nord-Sud say he was released after 24-hours of detention by the Directorate of Territorial Surveillance (DTS).

The intelligence agency have also demanded that the journalist who wrote the story, Jean-Claude Coulibaly, reveal his sources.

Before his release, Reporters without Borders said:

If Le Patriote broke the law by pre-empting a state entity’s prerogative to publish information, then it may be punished, but not by jailing its editor or the reporter who wrote the story (…) Under Côte d’Ivoire’s 2004 media law, journalists cannot be detained for media offences, so Charles Sanga must be released. Furthermore, the DST’s attempt to force him to reveal his sources violates a basic principle of media freedom.

Anonymous Attack?

'Anonymous' mask. Image by Flickr user luccast85 (CC BY 2.0).

A few hours after Sanga's arrest, news website Les grandes oreilles (The Big Ears) reported that hackers claiming to belong the the global, decentralised “Anonymous” collective threatened to attack the DTS, saying they would release secret documents of the intelligence agency if the editor was not released. An new anonymous Twitter account (@An0nym0usLeader) with less than 30 followers said:

@An0nym0usLeader: Libérez Charles Sanga, directeur du journal Le Patriote. Dans 24H nous publierons des documents de la DST ivoirienne #anonymous #cotedivoire

Free Charles Sanga, managing news editor of newspaper ‘Le Patriot’. In 24 hours we will publish documents of the Ivorian DTS #anonymous #cotedivoire

Documents the Twitter account claims were leaked from the DTS were posted on Pastebin.com (a site where anyone can post text), including a list of names of alleged DTS secret agents and license plate numbers in use by the agency. The last message on the Twitter account was on February 1.

In a leader about Charles Sanga's arrest Nord-Sud‘ says [fr]:

A quand la fin de l’arrestation des journalistes pour leurs écrits en Côte d’Ivoire ? Le gérant et directeur de publication du quotidien Le Patriote, Charles Sanga, a été relâché, hier, après 24h de détention à la Direction de la surveillance du territoire (Dst), au Plateau. Ce, après une audition qui a duré plus de deux heures. (..) La situation a inquiété de nombreux hommes de presse qui se posent des questions sur la liberté de la presse sous le régime Ouattara.

When will we see the end of journalists being arrested for their articles in Côte d’Ivoire? The manager and editor of the newspaper Le Patriote, Charles Sanga, was released yesterday after being detained for 24h at department of homeland security, at the Plateau district. His hearings lasted two hours (..) This situation is worrisome for many journalists who wonder about freedom of press under the Ouattara regime.

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