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Amnesty demands Equatorial Guinea release rights activist

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Amnesty demands Equatorial Guinea release rights activist

Equatorial Guinea should release a human rights activist who was detained for denouncing the arrest of an opposition leader, said a human rights group.

Luis Nzo was beaten and then arrested on Thursday in the tiny, oil-rich Central African nation for distributing leaflets and using a megaphone to deplore the arrest of Guillermo Nguema, Amnesty International said late Friday.

Nguema, leader of the Republican Democratic Force opposition party, was arrested earlier in the week and taken to a village in the country’s far east. He had been told he cannot leave the village without authorization, according to Amnesty.

« Luis Nzo must be immediately and unconditionally released, and all restrictions of movement lifted from Guillermo Nguema, » said Marta Colomer Aguilera, a campaigner for Amnesty. « There is no legitimate reason to justify this — it is simply a crackdown on dissent. »

Amnesty and EG Justice, a U.S.-based rights group focused on Equatorial Guinea, say they have evidence Nzo was beaten when he refused to stop handing out leaflets and then taken to a police station. He is being held without charge.

Equatorial Guinea is home to Africa’s longest serving strongman, President Teodoro Obiang, who came to power through a military coup in 1979. It has the highest per capita income in Africa but its oil money benefits only a small elite and Obiang stifles the opposition.