On July 28, 2023, three masked men in a pickup truck threatened to kidnap Sahiana Maman Hassan, editor of the news magazine Le Témoin de l’Histoire, in Niamey, Niger’s capital, according to the journalist and Ibrahim Harouna, president of the Press House, a local media association, who both spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
Hassane, also known as Soufiane Hassane, said he suspected the men targeted him because his media outlet had supported President Mohamed Bazoum, who was ousted in a coup on July 26. Bazoum’s 2021 election marked Niger’s first peaceful, democratic transition since independence from France in 1960.
Hassane told CPJ that the masked men stopped him while he was walking near his home, identified him by name, gave his exact address, and threatened to raid his house “very soon” and kidnap him, adding that he “won’t know what happens next.”
Hassane said he suspected that the men were wandering around the neighborhood after military authorities banned a demonstration in support of the coup.
Hassane told CPJ on August 7 that he had gone into hiding and suspended his outlet’s print operations over safety fears, but he was still covering current events on the magazine’s Facebook page.
On July 28, the Press House issued a press release raising concerns “about attempts to undermine press freedom and the safety of journalists,” but did not identify any journalists by name.
Hache Bonzougou, a spokesperson for the new military regime, told CPJ via messaging app that the context in which the media was operating was “normal” and that there was “in principle” no pressure on their freedom to report.
CPJ condemned Niger’s suspension on August 3 of broadcasts by Radio France Internationale and France 24, following anti-French protests and an attack on the French Embassy in Niamey by supporters of the junta.