Equatorial Guinea pastor freed after calling president a ‘demon’

A pastor and former justice minister in Equatorial Guinea, Rubén Maye Nsue Mangue, has been freed after being detained for two years for calling President Teodoro Obiang Nguema a “demon.” Mangue was pardoned by Obiang, Africa’s longest-serving ruler, who took power in a 1979 coup.

Mangue was arrested in 2022 after an audio recording criticizing Obiang went viral. He called the president “a demon… holding his people as prisoners” and refused to apologize, leading to charges of provoking public disorder and a preaching ban.

Rights organizations label Obiang as one of Africa’s most authoritarian leaders. He won a sixth term in 2022 with nearly 95% of the vote, in an environment where political opposition and free press are scarce.

During his detention, Mangue reported receiving no lawyer visits and not standing trial. He and 19 others were granted amnesty on Friday. The decree expressed hope that those pardoned would act as “repentant citizens.”

Mangue, an ordained Pentecostal pastor, served as justice minister from 1998 to 2004 and held various diplomatic positions, including ambassador to the US. In 2014, he was accused of assaulting a girl at his US residence but wasn’t arrested due to diplomatic immunity. He did not respond to these accusations at the time.

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