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Botswana news editor, journalist arrested by intelligence officials

THE African Editors Forum (TAEF) has strongly condemned the arrest and interrogation of Ryder Gabathuse, the editor of Botswana-based newspaper, Mmegi, and the subsequent arrest of reporter Innocent Selatlhwa by intelligence officials.

According to TAEF, approximately 10 armed members of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (Diss) descended upon the offices of Mmegi, subjecting Gabathuse to a four-hour interrogation.

Although Gabathuse was eventually released, the police have reportedly refused to return his seized cellphone and laptop.

“TAEF is shocked by the activities of Diss which are inimical to democracy and smacks of dictatorship. We call on the Diss to publicly apologise for their illegal activities and return the editor’s laptop and cellphone. They should assure citizens of Botswana that they will respect the role of the media and will not abuse the power accorded to them by the constitution,” TAEF chairperson Jovial Rantao said.

TAEF expresses solidarity with Gabathuse, Selatlhwa, the Botswana Editors Forum and all media practitioners in Botswana.

“We call on the president of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi to publicly reign in the DISS and other law enforcement agencies and ensure that a climate is created where media freedom will reign as the country prepares for national elections,” Rantao said.

The organisation also calls on the editor and journalists to take legal action against the Diss.