On Monday 12 January 2009 at 7pm, of the four Gabonese civil society activists – Grégory Ngbwa Mintsa, Marc Ona Essangui, Georges Mpaga and Gaston Asseko – who had been detained in Libreville since 30 and 31 December 2008, respectively, were released from jail. This release follows days of large-scale international mobilisation by both non-governmental groups and French authorities in Paris and Libreville.

The Rainforest Foundation UK demands the immediate release of the detained civil rights activists and journalists, arrested without charge by the Gabonese judicial police. On December 31, the Gabonese judicial police arrested the environmental and civil rights activist Marc Ona Essangui, president of Rainforest Foundation UK's partner organisation, Brainforest, and coordinator of the Publish What You Pay Coalition in Gabon.

“The current climate of fear is without precedent in recent years in Gabon and is indicative of President Omar Bongo’s readiness to hunt down all those who show too much interest in such subjects as the Bongo family’s possessions and the government’s handling of public funds,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The persecution of journalists must stop at once and the detainees much be released, as they have not been charged.”

Habib Papy Boubendji, also known as Habib Bibalou, a journalist with the satirical weekly Le Nganga, was badly beaten by soldiers inside the presidential compound in Libreville on the night of 5 December, Reporters Without Borders has learned from several sources. “This incident could easily have ended tragically, with one more name being added to the grim list of journalists who have ‘disappeared’ after falling into the clutches of an African president’s bodyguards”, the press freedom more

China will lend Gabon 37.2 billion CFA francs on concessionary terms to part-fund a hydroelectric dam scheme, the central African country's presidency said in a statement published on Saturday. The "Grand Poubara" hydro scheme is linked to a $3 billion Chinese-led project to mine iron ore at Belinga, which is a key plank in government efforts to wean Gabon's middle-income economy away from dependence on declining oil production.