On November 16, a Niamey court sentenced Maiga, publisher of the private weekly L’Enquêteur, to eight months in prison and a fine of US$685. The paper’s managing editor Dahirou Gouro and a reporter, Salif Dago, also received six-month suspended sentences and a fine of US$410 each.
The three journalists were convicted of “disturbing the public order” and of “spreading false information.” Niger’s Defense Ministry filed a complaint against L’Enquêteur after the weekly ran an article about a protracted dispute between Benin and Niger concerning Tete Island, a small landmass in the Niger River that both countries claim. L’Enquêteur reported that Benin had deployed troops on Tete Island to evict residents with Niger citizenship, and alleged that Benin was planning to cut diplomatic relations with Niger. The three journalists were first arrested between October 23 and 25 and were held for a week before they were released on bail pending their trial. L’Enquêteur, meanwhile, has ceased publishing.
Maiga was released on January 19, 2001.