A screen grab from the YouTube channel Dakarmatin shows journalist Pape Alé Niang discussing the arrest of Senegal's opposition politician Ousmane Sonko on July 28. (YouTube/Dakarmatin)

Senegalese journalist Pape Alé Niang released after hunger strike, Maty Sarr Niang remains jailed

Dakar, August 08, 2023 – The Committee to Protect Journalists on Tuesday welcomed the release of journalist Pape Alé Niang, but called for charges against him to be dropped and for Senegalese authorities to unconditionally release journalist Ndèye Maty Niang, also known as Maty Sarr Niang.

“The release of journalist Pape Alé Niang is a relief, but Senegalese authorities should never have arrested or charged him in the first place. The cases against him should be dropped and journalist Maty Sarr Niang, who was arrested in May, should also be released,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa Program Coordinator, from Durban, South Africa. “Senegal was once a beacon of press freedom in West Africa, but that light is being snuffed by the repeated jailing and harassment of journalists.”

Maty Sarr Niang
Reporter Maty Sarr Niang remains in detention since her arrest on May 16 (Credit: Marietou Beye)

On Tuesday, August 8, a court in Dakar, the capital, provisionally released Pape Alé Niang, editor of the privately owned news site Dakarmatin, after a 10-day hunger strike, according to the journalist’s lawyer, Moussa Sarr and local media reports. Sarr told CPJ that Niang still faces charges of insurrection and acts or maneuvers likely to compromise public security. Niang was arrested on July 29, the day after a broadcast on his outlet’s YouTube channel in which he discussed the latest arrest of opposition politician Ousmane Sonko.

Authorities did not place any new conditions on Niang’s release, Sarr said, but the journalist remains under strict conditions connected to an ongoing case from November 2022. Those conditions include a gag order and a ban on foreign travel.

Separately, Maty Sarr Niang (no relation to Pape Alé Niang) has remained in detention since her arrest on May 16. Authorities have charged her with “calling for insurrection, violence, hatred, acts and maneuvers likely to undermine public security, contempt of court and usurping the function of a journalist.” She similarly conducted a hunger strike from July 30 until  August 3, according to family members of the journalist who spoke to CPJ over a messaging app but asked not to be named for security reasons.