Reporters Without Borders is stunned to learn that Moussa Gueye, the editor of the privately-owned daily L’Exclusif, was placed in pre-trial custody yesterday on charges of insulting President Abdoulaye Wade and reporting “false information” in an article about his “nocturnal escapades.”
“Senegal’s president now has a personal prisoner accused of attacking his apparently sacred status,” the press freedom organisation said. “Arrested in an illegal manner and held under an archaic law, Gueye must be freed. President Wade needs to understand once and for all that such an appalling episode is no way to handle conflicts between the press and the authorities.”
Finally brought before an investigating judge one week after his arrest, Gueye was charged at the prosecutor’s request under articles 80, 254, 255 and 270 of the criminal code with “disseminating false news,” “insulting the president” and “disturbing public order” in a report in the 8 October issue headlined “President Wade’s nocturnal escapades.” The judge ordered him to be detained pending trial. He is being held in Rebeuss prison.
11.10 - Newspaper editor lured into trap and abducted by plain-clothes police
Reporters Without Borders condemns the kidnapping of Moussa Gueye, the editor of the privately-owned daily L’Exclusif, who was arrested, beaten and taken off to an unknown location by plain-clothes police on 8 October after being lured into a trap. His abduction came just hours after he published a story headlined “President’s nighttime escapade.”
“Such archaic methods do no honour to Senegal,” the organisation said. “The government often insists that it is committed to press freedom but these incidents keep on recurring. Even if Senegal’s press legislation is repressive, this case would have been handled fairly by means of ordinary judicial procedures. Instead, a journalist was literally kidnapped, beaten and shut away, and now the government has political prisoner being held for lese-majeste.”
Shortly before 9 p.m. on 8 October, Gueye received a call from an unidentified person claiming to be interested in taking out an ad in the next day’s issue of L’Exclusif. Gueye, who was not at the paper when he got the call, told the person when should meet at L’Exclusif, located 30 km southeast of Dakar at Rufisque.
While on his way there, Gueye was intercepted by five members of the Criminal Investigation Department (DIC), who said they were looking for Justin Ndoye, the journalist who wrote the article about the president
When Gueye refused to provide any information about his staff, he was slapped, handcuffed and bundled into the policemen’s car and told to lead them to where they could find his journalists. After he continued to refuse to comply, they drove to L’Exclusif, punctured the tyres of all the cars outside, and took the newspaper’s computers. A member of the staff who is now in hiding said he thought Gueye could have been taken to DIC headquarters.
The newspaper’s staff think Gueye’s arrest was prompted by Ndoye’s story about the president’s “nocturnal sorties” with his chief of staff, which quoted “sources close to the presidential palace.”
In public comments the next day, before Gueye’s arrest had been reported, President Abdoulaye Wade denied that he wanted to control the press and urged journalists to distinguish between “the president, citizen Wade and Senegal.”
“You know full well that I have the means to control the press” he added. “But I will not do it and I don’t want to do it (...) I don’t want a press on the payroll. I have enough money for that. I could do it but I am not going to do it.”