Mozambique: Arson in newspaper office ‘attack on press freedom’ – campaign group

A Mozambican civil society organisation on Monday denounced as an “attack on the freedom of the press” a fire, caused by arson, in the newsroom of the weekly Canal de Moçambique.

The newsroom, in central Maputo, was destroyed when unknown persons set fire to the building on Sunday night, the editor of the publication, André Mulungo told Lusa on Monday.

In a statement, The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), strongly condemned what it called an “attack on freedom of the press”, describing those responsible for setting the fire as criminals.

“This attack represents a serious blow against the freedom of the press, one of the foundations of democracy”, the note said, demanding a serious and in-depth investigation into the arson attack.

The fire affected the output of the weekly and the online newspaper CanalMoz, which belong to the same company.

The CDD reports that unknown people “poured fuel over all the furniture and computers, [before] reducing to ashes everything that was on the premises.”

Mulungo told Lusa that the case has been reported to police in Maputo, but that the authorities had not yet issued an opinion on the case.

Lusa has not yet been able to obtain a statement from the authorities on the matter.

The Canal de Moçambique is one of the country’s leading weeklies and has done work on issues such as corruption and governance.

The newspaper has been prosecuted several times for alleged libel and its executive director, Matias Guente, was recently summoned by the office of Mozambique’s attorney-general to answer questions about articles about security contracts between the government and oil multinationals operating in Cabo Delgado province, in the north of the country.