Posted by: africanpressorganization | 26 January 2009

Niger / Newspaper editor held for allegedly libelling finance minister




Niger / Newspaper editor held for allegedly libelling finance minister


NIAMEY, Niger, January 26, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Reporters Without Borders is worried by the continuing detention of Boussada Ben Ali, the managing editor of the independent weekly L’Action, as a result of a complaint by finance minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine accusing him of “publishing a false news report.” Ben Ali was arrested and placed in custody at the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department in Niamey for 48 hours on 23 January. This was extended for another 48 hours today. 

“We are disturbed to learn of the extension of the police custody”, Reporters Without Borders said. “We urge the judicial authorities to produce evidence that what Ben Ali published was wrong. If they cannot, he should be released without further delay.” 

The Association of Niger Independent Press Publishers (ANEPI) said his arrest was prompted by a report in the 13 January issue of his newspaper containing confidential information about a trade deal between Niger and China.


“Ben Ali embarrassed the ministry and that is why he was arrested,” his lawyer, Aamani Yahouza, told Reporters Without Borders. “So far there is no evidence that what he published was wrong,” he added.


Ben Ali was summoned by Higher Council for Communication president Daouda Diallo on the evening of 17 January to view a rebuttal that was broadcast later that evening on the national television news. He was asked to give the minister a public apology but refused.


In Niger, the charge of “publishing a false news report” carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison.



SOURCE : Reporters without Borders (RSF)


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