Niger ALERT: Newspaper publisher arrested and released

Moussa Aksar, publisher of privately-owned “L’Evenement” newspaper was arrested and detained overnight by security personnel drawn from Niger’s intelligence service, Renseignements Généraux (RG), for allegedly criticizing the country’s security agents.

Aksar was reportedly picked-up in his home at about 20:30 GMT and grilled for about 12 hours. He was released on September 21, without charge.

The arrest of the publisher followed comments he made on France 24, a French television channel, during a live-discussion programme, on September 15.

Aksar had blamed the security agents for security lapses in the north of the country. He said these lapses had enabled a militant group suspected to have links with theAl-Qaeda movement, to abduct seven foreign nationals – five French nationals, a Togolese and a Madagascan.

Media groups in the country condemned the arrest of Aksar and called on the authorities to ensure that the media operates freely in the country without fear or intimidation.

“We strongly condemn this arrest which we think is a tactic that belongs to another era. Besides, it is an attack on the freedom of expression and of opinion,” stated Boubacar Diallo, president of the Niger Press Centre.

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