Malian army expels French journalist from Gao

A French freelance reporter has said she was expelled from the city of Gao after reporting on allegations of human rights abuses in a nearby town, according to news reports.

Dorothée Thiénot, who contributes to various French news outlets, published an article on the French daily L’Express on January 20, 2013, that cited claims by anonymous local residents that Malian army soldiers were killing real or perceived Islamist insurgents and their accomplices in Sévaré, a frontline town in the conflict between the government and militants linked to Al-Qaeda.

The article quoted a Malian army officer as denying any knowledge of the allegations.

Thiénot told CPJ in an email that she became the target of intimidation once local army officers became aware of the story. She said two days after an officer publicly threatened to expel her from the country, two soldiers entered her house in Gao and escorted her out of the city without allowing her to collect her belongings from the house. She said she was forced to return to Bamako, the capital.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Lt. Col. Nema Sagara, a senior officer with the Mlian army, accused Thiénot of attempting to “ruin the image of the Malian army” with her reporting.

L’Express issued a press statement condemning Thiénot’s expulsion.