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New York, U.S.A. — An Ivoirian government security detail assaulted a journalist covering the eviction of a senior official’s family on Friday, seizing his equipment and leaving him bleeding and bruised, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the attack and calls on authorities to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.
A police officer, a military soldier, and agents in plainclothes attacked Anderson Diédri, a reporter for the private daily Le Nouveau Courrier, as he interviewed and photographed a woman and her five children as they were being evicted from their home in Abidjan, according to local journalists and news reports. The woman’s husband, Albert Toikeusse Mabri, the minister of planning and development, had sought the eviction after filing for divorce in June.
Mabri had sent the assailants to supervise the eviction, even though an appeals court had nullified an eviction order issued earlier by a lower court, news reports said.
Diédri said that he had identified himself as a journalist to his assailants, but the men continued to punch and kick him, leaving him with a bloody lip and bruises on his body, according to news reports. He said the men had also seized his camera and mobile phone, news reports said. One of Mabri’s aides later returned the camera to the journalist, but all of the photographs had been deleted, Stéphane Bahi, the editor of Le Nouveau Courrier, told CPJ.
No one has been arrested for the assault, according to local journalists. Bahi told CPJ that the newspaper planned to file an official complaint.
Edmond Doua, the director of communications to Mabri, told CPJ that the minister had not ordered the assault. Doua also said that the images had been deleted because the journalist had taken photographs of a private affair without any authorization. He said he had personally apologized to Le Nouveau Courrier and secured the release of the journalist’s equipment.
“We condemn the assault on Anderson Diédri in connection with his reporting on a public official,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita from New York. “If Ivoirian minister Albert Toikeusse Mabri did not order the attack, it is all the more imperative that he do everything in his power to identify Diédri’s assailants and bring them to justice.”