By Own Correspondent – Every day journalists expose fraud and corruption – in local organisations, corporations and high political office and occasionally they earn rebuke from politicians whose noses have been put out of joint.
However, when Charles Atangana, a leading Cameroonian journalist, did so, he was set upon by President Biya’s security forces, arrested, stripped naked, beaten up and detained for 40 days. He was locked in a flooded cell and tortured to try to force him to reveal his sources. He refused. Suffering from malnutrition, chronic diarrhoea and food poisoning Charles managed to persuade his captors to take him to hospital. Hidden in his underwear was the remains of his money. Through bribery he managed to escape. On his release he faced numerous death threats.
Charles fled to the UK in 2004 – somewhere he believed was a sanctuary for freedom of speech. Charles claimed asylum but this was refused, the UK Government didn’t believe he was a journalist, his work in newspapers, not online in pre-internet days in Cameroon. In July 2010, Charles was arrested and detained by immigration officials, his deportation immanent. He was released in August 2010 after a high profile campaign by the National Union of Journalists. In October, Charles’s appeal was heard at the High Court and was adjourned for the submission of further evidence that Charles is a journalist. Charles, his legal and campaigners have been collating this evidence and his final hearing is in January 2011.
However, Charles is still in grave danger of being returned to Cameroon and certain persecution. Charles’s life is at risk if he returns. Please support our campaign to grant Charles asylum in the UK.