New York, November 3, 1999 — Jerry Needam, acting editor of the bimonthly Ogoni Star newspaper in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, was arraigned and released on bail yesterday. Needam had been held since October 11 in connection with the publication of a police operational order that detailed a planned clampdown on ethnic Ijaw activists in the Delta region.
After having held him for 20 days without charge, authorities finally charged Needam, on the day of his release, with the crime of possessing classified documents.
Needam is in reasonable health, according to the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) in Port Harcourt, which owns the Ogoni Star. MOSOP is “very confident” that the charge can be effectively refuted should Needam’s case go to trial. MOSOP believes that Needam’s release was a direct result of advocacy work by international pressure groups, including CPJ.