Pape Alé Niang

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Senegalese journalist Pape Alé Niang is detained on anti-state and false news charges. Police officers arrested Niang in Dakar, the capital, on November 6, 2022, and transferred him to a prison in the western city of Sébikotane. 

Niang is the director of the privately owned website Dakarmatin, where he covers local politics and governance-related issues. He hosts live political news shows on his website and on his Facebook page, which CPJ reviewed.

On November 9, a prosecutor charged Niang with disclosing information harmful to the national defense, concealing administrative and military documents, and disseminating false information likely to discredit public institutions, according to his lawyer Ciré Clédor Ly, who spoke to CPJ by phone, and reports by local media and regional press freedom groups

Ly said the charges related to a November 3 video published by Dakarmatin, in which Niang reported on the contents of an internal gendarmerie report marked confidential. The leaked report purportedly exonerated Ousmane Sonko, an opposition leader and 2024 presidential candidate charged with rape.

Niang faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and has been charged under Articles 64, 80, 255, 370, and 430 of the Senegalese penal code, Ly said, adding that under Senegal’s standard legal procedures, the journalist could spend six to eight months imprisoned before the trial. 

On December 1, Mamadou Thior, head of the Council for the Respect of Journalism Ethics, a self-regulatory body for Senegal’s media known by its French acronym CORED, visited Niang in detention. Thior told CPJ by phone that he also had a previous meeting with Senegal’s Minister of Communication, Moussa Bocar Thiam, to ask how the journalist could be released on bail.

As of December 1, Niang’s next court date had not been set, Ly said.

CPJ’s Facebook messages to Senegal’s Ministry of Justice in November 2022 received no response. CPJ’s call to Senegalese police spokesperson Mouhamed Guèye did not connect.