- Djiboutian editor Daher Ahmed Farah still is in detention as his appeal hearing is held today. Mr Farah has been detained since 20 April for libelling Deputy Army Chief General Zakaria Cheik Ibrahim.
The Paris-based group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) today urged the authorities the authorities of Djibouti to release newspaper editor Farah without conditions, as his appeal hearing is held today.
The organisation urged state prosecutor Djama Souleiman Ali to show clemency and request Mr Farah's release at the hearing. Farah is both editor of the newspaper 'Le Renouveau', and the head of an opposition political party, the Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development (MRD).
Mr Farah was sued for libel by the Deputy Army Chief because of an article on 6 March accusing the army high command of carrying out politically-motivated dismissals. On 17 March, the editor of 'Le Renouveau' was sentenced to a suspended sentence of six months in prison and a fine of 2,000,000 FD (about 10,000 euros).
'Le Renouveau' criticised the army again on 17 April, accusing it of lacking "neutrality" and saying it "should be apolitical". Mr Farah was arrested three days later and placed in solitary confinement in Gabode prison. Only his mother has been allowed to visit him. His request for provisional release was turned down on 30 April.
A few days after his arrest, the Djibouti special police went to Mr Farah's home and to the headquarters of the MRD where they confiscated seven typewriters, an amplifier, replacement ink cartridges for the photocopiers, and all of the newspaper's files, although no search warrant was shown. On the morning of 5 May, police confiscated the latest issue of the newspaper from news stands and newspaper vendors.
Mr Farah has previously bee detained several times in the past few years. In most cases, he was prosecuted for a press crime and sentenced to prison terms for fines. On 15 March, he was detained for a day and fined for "undermining the army's morale."
- To our knowledge, Daher Ahmed Farah just exercised his right to inform the public, a right guaranteed by several international treaties ratified by the Republic of Djibouti, RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard said in a statement today.
- Nothing justifies this prolonged detention, Mr Ménard added, noting that the United Nations condemns "imprisonment as punishment for the peaceful expression of an opinion." RSF also announced that a member of Lawyers Without Borders would arrive in Djibouti today to defend Mr Farah. No local lawyer is willing to defend him.
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