New York, April 2, 2013–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today’s decision by a judge in Mali to grant bail to a journalist who was jailed for 27 days in connection with his paper’s publication of a letter critical of a military leader. CPJ calls on the public prosecutor to drop the charges against Boukary Daou, an editor of the daily Le Républicain.
Daou was released from the central prison in Bamako, the capital, at around 3 p.m. after the judge granted his application for bail pending trial, Assane Koné, editor-in-chief of the paper, told CPJ. Daou told CPJ he shared a cell with about 50 other inmates. Daou has been charged with incitement to mutiny and publishing false information and faces up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of 150 million CFA francs (US$293,000) if convicted, according to local journalists. His trial is scheduled to resume on April 16.
“We are relieved that Boukary Daou is free at last, after spending nearly a month behind bars,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “We urge the public prosecutor to abandon these charges against him, which criminalize press freedom and freedom of expression.”
Daou was arrested on March 5 by State Security, Mali’s intelligence agency, the day his paper published an open letter from a purported Malian army officer to President Dioncounda Traoré. In the letter, the officer, identified as Capt. Touré, protested a financial compensation package offered to Amadou Haya Sanogo, who had led a coup on March 22, 2012, but had recently been nominated to reform and lead Mali’s security forces. The writer questioned why a former coup leader was being rewarded and threatened to stop fighting if the government did not withdraw the package.
Sanogo had ceded power to Traoré’s government three weeks after the 2012 coup, which precipitated instability in the country as ethnic Tuareg separatists and Al-Qaeda-linked militants seized half the country.
Daou was held incommunicado for eight days without charge, news reports said. President Traoré said at the time that the journalist’s detention was part of a state of emergency in Mali that gives the government and local authorities sweeping powers of search, seizure, and arrest in the name of national security, according to news reports.
- For more data and analysis on Mali, visit CPJ’s Attacks on the Press.