Diallo, director of the bimonthly Aïr Info in the northern town of Agadez, was arrested by plainclothes police at the airport in Niamey as he prepared to board a flight to Paris for a professional seminar.
Diallo was held without charge in Niamey and transferred two days later to a police station in Agadez, where authorities had imposed a three-month state of alert in August that gave security forces blanket powers of arrest and detention, according to local journalists. In November, a court in Agadez charged Diallo with criminal conspiracy over his alleged involvement in an antigovernment demonstration in Agadez in August, according to local journalists and Diallo’s lawyer, Moussa Coulibaly. Diallo is also an activist with the civil society organization Alternative Espaces Citoyens.
Local journalists believed the arrest stemmed from a September 26 Aïr Info report that listed 20 people arrested in the Agadez region on suspicion of rebel links, according to Agence France-Presse.
CPJ research indicates that Diallo’s imprisonment was part of a pattern of government harassment designed to stifle critical coverage in his newspaper, the only publication in the rebel hotbed of Agadez. In July, authorities suspended the paper for three months and stripped its annual government subsidy of 1.4 million CFA francs (US$3,000) over articles allegedly “undermining the morale of troops,” according to local journalists and news reports.