Equatorial Guinea Detains 6 French Soldiers

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on June 24, 2013, Teodorin Obiang Nguema, the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president Teodoro Obiang and the country’s vice-president in charge of security and defence, arrives at Malabo Stadium in Malabo, to attend ceremonies to celebrate his 41st birthday. – The Paris appeals court on February 10, 2020, has confirmed a three-year suspended jail sentence for Teodorin Obiang, the son of Equatorial Guinea’s leader and its vice president, on graft charges. The court also ordered Obiang to pay 30 million euros ($32.9 million) — a fine suspended in the initial ruling in 2017. Obiang, the son of Equatorial Guinea’s leader Teodoro Obiang Nguema who has ruled the west African state for the last 40 years, was convicted of using public money to fund a jet-set lifestyle in Paris. (Photo by JEROME LEROY / AFP)

Equatorial Guinea has arrested and detained six French soldiers after the helicopter they were travelling in stopped to refuel at the Bata Airport, Litoral.

A source close to the matter said the helicopter was flying from Cameroon to Gabon when it made a routine stop at Equatorial Guinea’s second-largest airport. However, Equatorial State radio, TVGE, reported that the helicopter landed without authorisation.

The French soldiers were detained a day after the Court of Cassation in Paris upheld the conviction of Equatorial Guinea’s Vice President, Teodorin Obiang, for funding his lavish lifestyle using public money.

National authorities do not rule out that this incident could be a spy operation and provocation on the part of Paris,” TVGE reported.

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Teodorin is the son of Equatorial Guinea President, Teodoro Obiang. He was handed a three-year suspended sentence and a 30 million euro (approximately $33 million) fine at the end of his trial in absentia in 2020. Luxury assets seized in France during the investigation were ordered to be confiscated.

French army spokesman, Pascal Ianni, has denied the soldiers were on a spy mission, stressing that there had been similar incidents in the past.

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