March 25, 2002
His Excellency Col. Azali Assoumani
President of the Federal and Islamic Republic of the Comoros
c/o the Mission of the Federal and Islamic Republic
of the Comoros to the United Nations
New York, NY 10022
The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned that Comoran authorities continue to hold a respected independent journalist in jail for his work.
On November 10, 2001, Izdine Abdou Salam, a host and director of programming for the private station Radio Karthala, was detained and interrogated by police officers in the capital, Moroni.
Salam was arrested after he hosted a call-in show on a constitutional referendum planned for the following month, CPJ sources said. Several callers attacked provisions in the draft constitution relating to the proposed new structure of the federal republic. Police seized tapes of the offending broadcast.
Many callers complained that under the new constitution, Grande Comore, the largest of the three Comoran islands, would enjoy more autonomy than Anjouan and Moheli. Some callers also questioned the moral integrity of members of the Comoran military regime, which sponsored the draft constitution.
Salam was accused of violating probation under an earlier conviction for defaming the prime minister. (Under the terms of his probation, Salam and Radio Karthala are forbidden to broadcast “political programs.”) He remains in prison today, more than four months after his arrest.
As a nonpartisan organization dedicated to the defense of press freedom worldwide, CPJ urges Your Excellency to take all legal measures to ensure that Izdine Abdou Salam is released immediately and without conditions of any kind.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your reply.