Journalist granted provisional release; three others remain jailed

New York, September 8, 2005—Ngaradoumbé Samory, one of four Chadian journalists jailed since July in connection with their work, was granted a provisional release from prison today pending a decision on his appeal. As editor of the private weekly L’Observateur, Samory was sentenced to three months in prison on July 18 for allegedly defaming the president and “inciting hatred” in an open letter published in his newspaper.

The letter, addressed to President Idriss Déby, was written under a pseudonym on behalf of members of a minority ethnic group known as the Kreda, whom the government had detained and accused of mounting a rebellion. The letter criticized the government’s treatment of the Kreda.

Local journalists attributed Samory’s early release to political pressure from Chadian journalists and the international community.

But the court also rejected a request for provisional release from Garondé Djarma, a freelance journalist who is serving two separate sentences of one and three years in jail. It is unclear whether the sentences are to be served consecutively or concurrently, according to local sources.

Two other journalists serving prison terms in the capital, N’Djamena, will have appeals hearing next week, local sources told CPJ. Sy Koumbo Singa Gali was sentenced to one year in prison, and Michaël Didama to six months.

To read more about these cases, see CPJ’s alerts of August 15 and August 8.

“It’s shameful that Chadian authorities continue to jail local journalists in connection with their work, despite widespread condemnation of the current media crackdown,” said Ann Cooper, executive director of CPJ. “We urge Chadian authorities to release Garondé Djarma, Sy Koumbo Singa Gali, and Michaël Didama immediately.”

On Friday, authorities jailed Laïssou Bagamala, a former journalist for L’Observateur, for three days in connection with an article published in the newspaper about a local property dispute, according to local sources. He was accused of defamation but it is unclear if he has been charged. Local journalists described his detention as riddled with procedural errors.