Journalist freed from prison, criminal charges remain

New York, July 27, 2004—Madiambal Diagne, publication director of the independent Senegalese daily Le Quotidien, was granted a provisional release yesterday afternoon after being held for more than two weeks in prison.

Diagne was jailed on July 9 in connection with articles published in Le Quotidien about alleged fraud in the customs service and alleged government interference in the judiciary. The criminal charges against him remain: publishing secret documents; publishing false information; and committing acts likely to cause public unrest.

According to Diagne’s lawyer, Boucounta Diallo, the journalist faces several years in prison if convicted. Diagne’s defense has filed a motion requesting that the charges against him be dismissed.

Diagne’s imprisonment has sparked widespread condemnation and protests from journalists’ associations and civil society groups in Senegal and neighboring countries. In an interview with Radio France Internationale following his release, Diagne said, “If my arrest has enabled the Senegalese government to become aware of the need to amend the criminal code, I am really glad to be the cause.”

“Madiambal Diagne’s imprisonment highlights the urgent need for President Abdoulaye Wade to uphold his stated commitment to press freedom, and to push for the removal of all criminal penalties for press offenses from Senegalese law,” said Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Executive Director Ann Cooper.

For more information about Madiambal Diagne’s imprisonment, see CPJ’s July 12 alert: