Journalist El Malick Seck freed by Senegal presidential pardon

On April 24, 2009, journalist El Malick Seck, who was serving a three-year prison sentence over an editorial implicating President Abdoulaye Wade and his son in an alleged money laundering scandal, was released on presidential pardon, according to local journalists and news reports. The sentence had been upheld in February. He was first imprisoned on August 28, 2008.

Defense lawyer Demba Ciré Bathily told CPJ that the pardon was unconditional and did not apply to two subsequent libel convictions that had punishments of six months in jail and a suspended one-year sentence in addition to fines and damages.

Seck, the managing editor of the private daily 24 Heures Chrono in Dakar, thanked the president for his gesture, as well as all those who supported him while in jail, according to local news reports. Bathily and other local journalists called Seck’s released “a good thing,” but insisted that the next step should be the decriminalization of press offences in Senegal.

Along with Seck, President Wade pardoned 12 individuals, including a driver and two bodyguards for former Transport Minister Farba Senghor who were convicted of vandalizing the offices of 24 Heures Chrono and the newspaper l’As in August 2008.