Mozambican newspaper HQ torched after leaking state documents

Tuesday August 25 2020

Burnt furniture and computers inside the head office of Canal de Mocambique. Net photo

The head office of an investigative newspaper in Mozambique that angered the government by leaking confidential documents has been destroyed in a suspected arson attack, its editor said on Monday.

The privately-owned Canal de Mocambique was sued by the state in June after publishing confidential contracts between the government and gas exploration companies operating in the restive northern region of Cabo Delgado.

The leaked documents revealed plans to send troops to protect the firms from insurgents that have been wreaking havoc in the area since 2017.

Canal de Mocambique's offices were attacked on Sunday in the capital Maputo.

"They broke down the doors yesterday around 8 pm and set everything on fire with fuel," editor Matias Gente told AFP.

All furniture, documents and electronics were destroyed by the blaze, he added.


"We are not naive to think that this is a common crime. It is because of our work that certain sectors of society have not been pleased."

Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi condemned the attack and called on authorities to open an investigation.

"Freedom of the press is a pillar of democracy and conquest of Mozambicans that must be protected," Nyusi posted on Facebook, vowing to bring the perpetrators to justice. 

The US Embassy in Maputo described the incident as a suspected arson attack. 

"The apparently intentional and extensive damage at the offices of a respected media institution impacts the state of freedom of speech," it said in a statement.

Veteran journalist Fernando Lima denounced "a terrorist act against press freedom".

Government officials have previously accused Gente of undermining state security. 

He was assaulted by strangers in Maputo last year and believes he narrowly escaped kidnapping.

At least two other Mozambican journalists have gone missing since 2019.

Last year, community radio presenter Amade Abubacar was kidnapped by soldiers after publishing classified information about the Cabo Delgado insurgency, and later sentenced to three months in prison for crimes against state security.

Rights groups are still looking for radio journalist Ibraimo Abu Mbaruco, who went missing in April on his way home from work in Cabo Delgado, after texting a colleague that he was surrounded by soldiers.

Police say they unaware of Mbaruco's whereabouts and the government has not officially commented on his case.