Cartoonist freed in E Guinea after 5 months behind bars

Libreville - A cartoonist who was held in custody for more than five months in Equatorial Guinea was released on Wednesday, an NGO said.

Ramon Esono Ebale, who works under the pseudonym "Ham and Cheese", was arrested for works "that regularly criticise the government of Equatorial Guinea", the African Union previously said.

Confirming his release, director of the US-based rights group EG Justice, Tutu Alicante, said in a statement: "The release of Ramon is proof of the power of the collective work of hundreds of artists, concerned citizens and NGOs."

On February 27 at the start of his trial in capital Malabo public prosecutor Rafael Ondo Nguema asked for the release of Ebale, saying there was a "lack of clear evidence".

Ebale was arrested in mid-September with the government announcing his detention was for "money laundering and forgery". They alleged a million CFA francs in counterfeit money (1,500 euros) was found at his home.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news from around the continent by subscribing to our FREE newsletter, Hello Africa.

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook.

"They stuck on this motive... so that I spent five months in jail," said Ebale at the time.

"I do not know anything about money, but I know they arrested me for my cartoons," he said.

Originally from Equatorial Guinea, Ebale had been living in Paraguay before he returned to renew his passport and was arrested.

According to EG Justice, the arrest of Ebale was linked to the publication of a graphic novel in May 2016 called "Obi's nightmare" after President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

The publication portrays Obiang as an ordinary Guinean citizen, and highlights the lack of access to electricity, healthcare and education and restriction of freedom of expression in Equatorial Guinea.

Obiang has ruled the oil-rich central African nation since he seized power in 1979.

Despite the discovery of considerable oil reserves in 1996, most of Equatorial Guinea's 1.2 million inhabitants still live in poverty.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nappies, they cost too much
7% - 304 votes
Formula and food, it's getting so expensive
18% - 806 votes
Creche and school fees are a struggle every month
76% - 3477 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
15.83
+1.6%
Rand - Pound
19.78
+0.4%
Rand - Euro
16.76
+0.5%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.16
+0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+1.2%
Gold
1,841.08
+1.3%
Silver
21.91
+2.3%
Palladium
2,021.50
+0.3%
Platinum
969.00
+3.3%
Brent Crude
109.11
-2.6%
Top 40
61,726
-1.3%
All Share
68,246
-1.2%
Resource 10
71,337
-0.6%
Industrial 25
75,802
-1.3%
Financial 15
15,729
-1.9%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE