Index on Censorship condemns lawsuit against journalist and author Oliver Bullough

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Index on Censorship is extremely concerned at the lawsuit that has been filed against author and journalist Oliver Bullough (right). Bullough is being sued in Portugal by the vice president of Angola for €525,000 in relation to his award-winning non-fiction book, Moneyland.

The complaint relates to questions Bullough raised in his book about how Angola’s Vice President Bornito de Sousa Baltazar Diogo could have afforded to spend USD $200,000 on custom-made bridal wear for his daughter. De Sousa claimed that he paid for the dresses on his public servant’s salary, after the shopping spree was featured on the US reality TV show “Say Yes to the Dress”.

“We need investigative journalism to hold power to account. How can journalists be expected do this if they are being subject to aggressive legal claims in plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions?” said Jessica Ní Mhainín, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Index on Censorship. “Bullough is being sued for more than half a million Euro in a jurisdiction he has never before set foot in, for publishing information that is clearly in the public interest.”

Bullough’s Portuguese publisher, 20/20 Editora, is named as the second defendant in the lawsuit. Separately, de Sousa is suing Portuguese anti-corruption activist Paulo de Morais, co-founder of the Portuguese chapter of Transparency International, who recounted the purchases on Portuguese television.

Index on Censorship has filed a Council of Europe media freedom alert.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Angola: Index welcomes acquittal of Rafael Marques de Morais


Index on Censorship welcomes the decision on 6 July to acquit Angolan journalist and winner of the 2015 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award for Journalism, Rafael Marques de Morais, along with editor Mariano Brás Lourenço, of defamation and slander for an article critical of Joao Maria de Sousa, Angola’s former attorney general.

If found guilty, the pair would have faced up to four years in prison; Marques de Morais for writing the article and Brás Lourenço for publishing it in the newspaper O Crime. The article in question investigated a real estate deal involving Maria de Sousa, who went on to sue on the grounds that he had been insulted. The judge in the case, Josina Ferreira Falcão, however, ruled that the article fulfilled the journalistic duty to inform the public and expose alleged wrongdoing while acknowledging that the real estate transaction was “tainted with irregularities”.

“That a judge sided with media freedom and independent journalism is a welcome step forward for Angola, a country where most of the media is still under the control of the government and critical journalists are too easily prosecuted for defamation,” Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship, said. “However, no media worker should ever be made to stand trial in the first place simply for pursuing the truth and we demand that steps now be taken in Angola to ensure greater legal protection for journalists.”

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Charges against Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais must be dropped


Journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques de Morais received a Freedom of Expression Journalism Award in 2015.

Journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques de Morais received a Freedom of Expression Journalism Award in 2015. (Photo: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

The Angolan government should immediately drop all charges against journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques de Morais, winner of Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Award and Fellowship in 2015.

As the publisher of website Maka Angola, Marques is charged with “outrage to a body of sovereignty” and “insult against public authority”. As a private citizen, he is charged with abuse of press freedom, injury, and defamation. The indictment followed the publication of an article by Marques, in which he documented an illegal real estate transaction made in 2011 by Angola’s Attorney General, João Maria Moreira de Sousa.

Maka Angola is a website “dedicated to the struggle against corruption and to the defense of democracy in Angola”. As its director, Marques has been a prominent critic of corruption and abuses of power.

David Heinemann, Index on Censorship’s head of fellowship said: “It is no coincidence that these charges come just two months before elections in Angola. Fearless in his reporting, Marques de Morais has been a beacon for free expression in the region and an exemplar internationally. These charges are clear retaliation for his reporting and an attempt to silence the work of someone who would elsewhere be considered a national treasure.”

Marques has previously faced criminal charges for libel regarding his 2011 book Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola, which exposed human rights abuses. Index condemned the move to convict him in 2015.

Other international organisations including CPJ and Human Rights Foundation have spoken out against the charges Marques faces, which carry a potential sentence of six years in prison.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”12″ style=”load-more” items_per_page=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1498559133604-39ac5146-3bef-7″ taxonomies=”6964, 6938″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

#IndexAwards2017: Luaty Beirão singing against the Angolan regime


Angolan rapper Luaty Beirão, also known by his stage name Ikonoklasta, has been instrumental in showing the world the hidden face of the country’s president José Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled oil-rich Angola since 1979. Beirão’s politically-charged music is popular among many Angolans. “I sing against the Angolan regime to spread the word to people of my country,” Beirão says.

2017 Freedom of Expression Awards linkFor his activism Beirão has been beaten, had drugs planted on him and, in June 2015, was arrested alongside 14 other people planning to attend a meeting to discuss a book on non-violent resistance. He was convicted of rebellion against dos Santos, criminal association and falsifying documents. In all, 17 activists were found guilty. Amnesty International they had been sentenced by a “kangaroo court”.

During his year-long sentence – three months of which were on house arrest – Beirão spent 36 days on hunger strike.

Since his release, he has continued to perform, remain active and challenge the regime. He tried to stage a massive concert in November 2016 but the authorities refused to grant him a license. He published a book about his captivity, I Was Freer Then, about which he says: “I would rather be in jail than in a state of fake freedom where I have to self-censor.”

On 24 February 2017, during a protest for greater transparency around elections, Beirão was bitten at least three times by two different police dogs. “In one of the occasions it was pretty bad,” he told Index on Censorship. “A lot of people were badly injured that day. A few were temporarily detained and released after a few hours – you know, the usual.”

See the full shortlist for Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Awards 2017 here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content” equal_height=”yes” el_class=”text_white” css=”.vc_custom_1490258749071{background-color: #cb3000 !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”Support the Index Fellowship.” font_container=”tag:p|font_size:28|text_align:center” use_theme_fonts=”yes” link=”|||”][vc_column_text]

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