Eight newspaper publishers questioned for implicating president's son in corruption
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||3 August 2009|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, Eight newspaper publishers questioned for implicating president's son in corruption, 3 August 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a7fdcb41a.html [accessed 23 July 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Reporters Without Borders deplores the interrogation of eight newspaper publishers by the Niamey police on 1 August at the behest of the President's son for publishing a document accusing him and another person of taking kickbacks. After being questioned, two of the publishers were taken into custody in connection with another case and were due to appear before prosecutors on 5 August.
"Journalists should not have to explain themselves in a police station when they do their job properly," Reporters Without Borders said. "The summonses received by these newspaper owners are shocking and come at a time when the space for free expression in Niger is being drastically reduced."
Calling for the release of the two publishers who have been detained, the press freedom organisation added: "We salute the courage and tenacity of Niger's journalists, who should be able to cover political developments and report corruption cases without being arrested or intimidated."
The publishers of Niger's eight leading weeklies were summoned for questioning at Niamey police headquarters on 1 August for printing a document signed by a notary indicating that an internationally-owned company, Niger Uranium Venture SA, paid President Mamadou Tandja's son, Hadia Doulaye Tandja, and Ibrahim Hamidou, a journalist linked to the president's family, 5 million dollars in kickbacks for permission to prospect for uranium in the north of the country.
The two detained publishers are Abdoulaye Tiémogo of Le Canard Déchaèné and Ali Soumana of Le Courrier. They face a libel prosecution over reports accusing the justice minister of overcharging for a study on slavery and forced labour in 2007, when he was head of the national human rights commission.
The deputy director-general of the Dounia radio and TV group, Ali Idrissa, was meanwhile summoned for questioning by National Communication Council president Daouda Diallo for interviewing government opponents about tomorrow's referendum on a proposed change to the constitution that would allow President Tandja to stay in power until 2012 and seek reelection as many times as he likes.
"Our job is to inform the public and this is what we will do, whatever the cost," Idrissa told Reporters Without Borders. "We will not yield to threats or blackmail."
As it stands, the constitution would require President Tandja to stand down when he completes his second term in December.
The eight publishers targeted by the complaint brought by the president's son:
Moussa Aksar, L'Evénement
Zakari Alzouma, Opinions
Abard Mouddour Zakara, L'Actualité
Omar Keita Lalo, Le Républicain
Ibrahim Souley, L'Enquèteur
Assane Sadou, Le Démocrate
Abdoulaye Tiémogo, Le Canard Déchaèné
Ali Soumana, Le Courrier