- Mamane Abou, editor of the weekly 'Le Républicain' has been arrested and accused of "involvement in the theft and publication" of confidential Finance Ministry documents, allegedly proving that Niger's Finance Minister had embezzled several billion CFA francs (over 1.5 million euros).
Mr Abou was arrested in Niamey, the capital of Niger, on Wednesday (5 November). After the allegations against the Finance Minister appeared in the 15 July issue of 'Le Républicain', Mr Abou was summoned to appear before a Niamey court on 7 November.
However, the judge issued an arrest warrant on 5 November, claiming that Mr Abou, who had just returned from a visit to France, was trying to avoid facing the court. Police officers and the judge arrested him at the newspaper's offices.
The Paris-based group Reporters sans Frontičres (RSF) yesterday called on the government of Niger to immediately release Mamane Abou. The media watchdog group issued a release, strongly condemning the surprising detention of the Nigerien editor.
- We are appalled that the authorities are still targeting journalists as soon as they feel threatened, said RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard in the statement.
- Abou had the courage to criticise a Minister's corruption and he is unfortunately paying the price in this new intimidation bid by the authorities," added Mr Ménard.
The RSF leader also said that "any journalist who criticises the country's leaders is arrested and jailed for several days and sometimes weeks," referring to the fragile press freedom situation in Niger. "We call on the authorities to stop harassing journalists," says Mr Ménard.
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