SEPTEMBER 27, 2005
Posted October 11, 2005

Abdoulaye Harouna, Echos Express

A court in the northern town of Agadez convicted Abdoulaye Harouna, publication director of the monthly Echos Express, of defaming the local governor, Yahaya Yendaka. The court sentenced him to four months in jail and fined him 520,000 CFA francs (US$950). Harouna reported on alleged corruption in the distribution of food aid during this year’s famine in Niger. Harouna remained free because no arrest warrant was immediately issued. He said he planned to appeal.

Harouna told CPJ that Yendaka filed a defamation suit against him after an article accused the governor of corruption in the distribution of aid in the Agadez region. Harouna faces prosecution on another count of defaming Yendaka following an August article in Echos Express, which described a campaign of harassment and intimidation by local authorities against journalists who report on sensitive topics, including food aid distribution.

A second Agadez-based journalist, Hamed Assaleh Raliou, faces at least two charges of defaming Yendaka in June and July, according to local sources. One charge stems from a report filed by Raliou for Radio France Internationale, which alleged that the governor had distributed food aid to military and administrative officials instead of the needy. The second charge stems from a talk show Raliou hosted on the Agadez-based independent station Sahara FM. In the show, local journalists, a union leader, and a teacher criticized the governor for unfairly distributing aid.