After the leak last weekend, the prosecutor visited television stations that had discussed the contents of his accounts in an attempt to find out who was behind the publication of his bank details.
But the records were soon published in the local press and on the internet, and transparency campaigners say they show transfers worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Local rights activists were summoned by the police for questioning in what international transparency watchdogs say is the latest in a pattern of state harassment and intimidation of anti-corruption campaigners.
Gabon became one of Africa’s first oil exporters in the 1960s and its population of 1.5 million has, in theory, one of the highest per capita incomes on the continent. But according to the United Nations, one third of the population still lives in poverty.
The government’s tolerance of criticism of the way it spends the state’s resources ran out earlier this year when it suspended 20 non-governmental organisations for interfering in politics. The suspension was lifted after a week.
"This incident is the latest in a series of recent attempts by the government of Gabon to restrict the work of transparency activists," Publish What You Pay (PWYP), an international coalition calling for transparency in the oil, gas and mining industries, said in a statement on Thursday.
Neither Chief Prosecutor Bosco Alaba Fall nor the police have commented publicly.
Marc Ona, one of the campaigners in Gabon, said that no formal charges had been made but he and two others who issued a statement calling for an investigation into Fall’s accounts had been accused by the police of insulting a public official.
"He (Fall) must resign and explain the movements of money through his account," Ona told Reuters after he was questioned. Two other transparency campaigners had also been summoned by the police, he added.
Ona heads the local branch of PWYP, which was one of the groups suspended in January after they criticised the state over the size of the government, environmental damage and the lack of funds for roads, schools and hospitals.
"We are very worried about the safety and well-being of Marc Ona and his colleagues in Gabon," said Radhika Sarin, PWYP’s international coordinator.
"The international community must send a strong message to the government of Gabon that this campaign of intimidation and harassment against civil society activists is simply unacceptable," Sarin said.
With Gabon’s oil reserves dwindling, a new $3 billion iron ore mining deal with China is seen as increasingly important.
But environmentalists have raised questions over the impact of the project on Gabon’s part of the Congo Basin, the second largest forest in the world. (Source : Reuters).
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