Two French journalists arrived back in Paris on Sunday after being deported by Burkina Faso’s military government on allegations of spying on the West African country and paying for faked eyewtiness reports.
The newspapers Le Monde and Libération said Sophie Douce and Agnès Faivre had been told to leave Burkina Faso at short notice. The deportations had been justified on the grounds the two had paid large sums of money to secure false statements, the papers said.
“We protest energetically against these absolutely unjustified deportations and the ban on our journalists working independently,” Libération said. Le Monde director Jérôme Fenoglio also condemned what he termed an “arbitrary decision” compelling the two to leave with 24 hours.
Last month, Burkina Faso banned broadcasts by France 24, an international television broadcaster owned by the French state. Popular French radio broadcaster RFI was banned in December.
The two broadcasters have also been blocked for the past year by the military government in neighbouring Mali.
Armed groups have been active in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger in the Sahel region for years, some of them allied to Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Following Mali’s lead, Burkina Faso is turning away from France, the former colonial power that has maintained a military and economic presence in the region, recently terminating military cooperation.
Anti-French sentiment has grown, and Russian forces have become increasingly active in the region.