New York, December 5, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply troubled by the continued imprisonment of Salifou Soumaila Abdoulkarim, director of the private weekly Le Visionnaire. Abdoulkarim was sentenced on Friday to two months in jail and a symbolic one-franc CFA fine for allegedly defaming State Treasurer Siddo Elhadj.
“Jailing journalists for critical reporting is totally unacceptable,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We call on the government of Niger to release Abdoulkarim, and work toward the elimination of criminal libel.”
Abdoulkarim was arrested on November 12 and placed in “preventive detention.” The journalist was transferred to prison on November 17, and was denied bail pending his trial. He is held at the central prison in the capital, Niamey, according to Abdoulaye Massalaki, president of Niger’s journalists’ union.
Elhadj brought a criminal defamation suit over an article in Le Visionnaire that accused him of embezzling government funds.