NOVEMBER 12, 2005
POSTED: December 2, 2005
Salifou Soumaila Abdoulkarim, Le Visionnaire
Salifou Soumaila Abdoulkarim, director of the private weekly Le Visionnaire, was arrested November 12 and placed in preventive detention after State Treasurer Siddo Elhadj filed a defamation suit.
Elhadj brought the suit over an article in Le Visionnaire which accused him of embezzling 17 billion CFA francs (US$30 million) in government funds. A prosecutor ordered that Abdoulkarim be held in preventive detention at police headquarters in the capital Niamey. He was transferred to prison on November 17.
Abdoulaye Massalaki, president of Niger’s journalists’ union, told CPJ that preventive detention for journalists charged with defamation is allowed under Niger’s 1999 press law. Since a prominent journalist was sentenced to six months in jail for defamation in late 2003, local journalists have struggled to reform Niger’s media legislation. Maman Abou, director of the private weekly Le Républicain, was granted a provisional release from prison in January 2004.
In September, a court in the northern town of Agadez sentenced Abdoulaye Harouna, managing editor of the monthly Echos Express, to four months in jail for allegedly defaming the local governor, Yahaya Yendaka. However, Harouna remained free because no arrest warrant was immediately issued, according to local sources.