A petition to free Afro-German Cameroonian man, Wilfried Siewe, from false imprisonment has reached 76,267 signatures. The petition was started by his wife Lyaka Siewe who was present at his arrest and is targeted at German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass and .H.E. Ambassador Dr. Hans-Dieter Stell.
The petition has a goal to reach 150,000 signatures. We wrote about this here>>.
What led to his arrest?
In February last year while the family was on their last day of their vacation, Wilfried Siewe tried to take a picture of a building and thus he was arrested.
The police in Cameroon classified him as a political activist. The police woman arresting him found a video of a Cameroon demo in Berlin on his cell phone and he also had a book by an opposition politician with him.
Although Wilfried Siewe was able to prove that he was neither in Berlin nor on the demonstration, he was jailed.
His wife says he is politically interested but not active.
His wife, Layoko Siewe, is very worried about her husband as she is not even allowed to talk on the phone with him. She has so far managed to maintain contact with him via his local family and his lawyer. All this while the conditions in the prison are terrible with hardly any medical care.
How can a foreign citizen be arbitrarily arrested simply for taking pictures, owning books sold in public library and for using social medias?
Wilfried Siewe has so far gone through two military court cases, the last of which led to a six-month pre-trial detention. Hearings were supposed to be held, one was done so far but because the procesutor was absent, there are no further dates communicated. According to the latest information, it may take months and there is even a possibility of prolonging the pre-trial detention twice for 6 months each.
One disturbing aspect of this case is that the entire file on this case, including copies of his wife and children´s ID had been shared on social media for several weeks. These files reveal very private information about Wilfried Siewe and his family. Sharing those on the web exposes them to serious and continuing identity theft.
The German embassy in Yaounde was informed on the day of the arrest and the Foreign Office in Germany a few days later. The only official feedback from these institutions could be found in the aforementionned file.
It does not contain an opinion on the case and no request for release. On May 2nd, 2019, Wilfried was taken from the prison without any prior notice and presented to the magistrate. As a result, his lawyer was not present at the time of the trial before the magistrate.