JOHANNESBURG – Two journalists in Angola face charges of insulting the state for an article about an allegedly unethical real estate deal involving the attorney general, one of the journalists said Wednesday.
Rafael Marques de Morais, a human rights advocate whose Maka Angola website posts articles about alleged state corruption, said he was informed of the May 12 indictment on Tuesday and that he has five days to contest it before a judge sets a trial date.
The Maka Angola article about the real estate deal was published in the weekly newspaper "O Crime" by journalist Mariano Bras Lourenco, who also has been indicted, Marques said in an email. Conviction on the charges carries a penalty of up to six years, he added.
The two journalists violated professional ethics and slandered President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, according to the prosecution document. Dos Santos, who has been in power in the southern African nation since 1979, has said he will not run in the presidential election scheduled for Aug. 23 though he is expected to remain leader of the ruling party.
Marques, who was jailed in 1999 after criticizing dos Santos in an article, said he believes authorities are concerned that Maka Angola is "influencing opinion" and that the case against him and Lourenco is an attempt to "sow some confusion to prevent people from reposting and forwarding critical information."