Niger ALERT: Newspaper publisher arrested again

Abdoulaye Tiémogo, publisher-director of the Canard Dechaine weekly newspaper, has been arraigned before the Niamey Regional Tribunal. Tiémogo was arrested on June 18, 2002 by officers of the Criminal Investigation Division for a complaint of “defamation” filed by Prime Minister Hama Amadou. Tiémogo

first appeared in court on June 19, and was ordered detained without a bail. He was finally charged to court on Friday June 21, 2002. The June 13-20, 2002 edition of the Canard Dechaine reported that Amadou had allegedly offered CFA 600 million francs to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mahamane Ousmane, in a bid to retain his post as Prime Minister.

Tiémogo has continually been a victim of political vindictiveness by functionaries of Amadou’s government. On October 19, 2001, he was sentenced to six months imprisonment for a publication which was critical of Agriculture Minister Wassaalke Boukari. He was released on December 7, 2001 when the minister withdrew his complaint at the start of the appeal hearing. Again, in May 2002, Tiémogo hosted a debate on the private Tambara FM radio station. One week later, on May 18, 2002, he was arrested and detained for eleven days, together with the opposition Parti Nigérien pour l’autogestion (PNA) leader Sanoussi Jackou, and Abarad Mouddour Zakara, publisher of the La Roue de l’histoire newspaper, who took part in the debate. They were each given a four-month suspended jail sentence and a fine of CFA 100,000 francs for “defaming” the Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce.

The MFWA urges the government of Prime Minister Amadou to withdraw the latest defamation charge on Tiémogo, stop harassing and intimidating media practitioners and demonstrate a commitment to freedom of expression in the country.

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