Reporters Without Borders welcomes the release today of all of the four journalists imprisoned in Senegal - Moussa Guèye, the editor of the privately-owned daily L’Exclusif, Pape Moussa Doukar, one of his employees, Pape Moussa Gaye, the editor of the privately-owned daily Le Courrier du Jour, and El Malick Seck, the editor of the news website Rewmi.com.
The interior ministry said they were freed with the aim of “defusing relations between the press and the government.”
08.11.07 : Four journalists arrested in a month as government sets police on its press critics
Reporters Without Borders called today for the immediate release of El Malick Seck, who runs the news website Rewmi.com, and of Pape Amadou Gaye, the publisher of the privately-owned daily Le Courrier du Jour, and said it would like an explanation for a sudden wave of arrests of journalists for “insulting the president.” Detained by plain-clothes police on 1 November, Gaye was charged and place in pre-trial detention yesterday.
“The authorities have obstinately refused to modernise press legislation and establish good relations with the media, but until now they have not been in the habit of using the police to set traps for journalists and arrest them one after another,” the press freedom organisation said.
“This development is puzzling and certainly does not offer a response to any problems the press might pose,” Reporters Without Borders added. “This form of repression must stop at once and the authorities must provide an explanation for this sudden hostility towards small, privately-owned newspapers.”
Gaye was arrested when a man arrived at his newspaper’s office in a Dakar suburb at 7 p.m. on 1 November and asked to see him. The visitor was quickly joined by four members of the Criminal Investigation Division (DIC), who handcuffed Gaye and said they had been instructed to arrest him. Gaye was then taken to DIC headquarters and the newspaper was closed until further notice.
Gaye was charged yesterday with “insulting the president, action liable to threaten state security and action liable to result in disobedience by the army” and could face trial before an assize court, Agence France-Presse was told by his lawyer, Clédor Ciré Ly.
The charges relate to an article blaming the government for price increases and problems in rural areas. Gaye wrote that “the army is the only sector that could get the authorities to change tack (...) and force the government to pull itself together and do what it is supposed to do.”
The DIC arrested El Malick Seck today at his home in Thiès (70 kilometres east of Dakar) and took him to the capital. His website yesterday posted an article reprinted from the privately-owned daily L’Observateur about President Abdoulaye Wade’s recent acquisition of a Hoover limousine. Police spokesman, Alioune Ndiaye, told Agence France-Presse that he was not aware of the arrest.
The arrests of Pape Amadou Gaye and El Malick Seck bring to four the number of journalists arrested in Senegal in less than a month. Moussa Guèye, the editor of the privately-owned daily L’Exclusif, was arrested by DIC officers on 8 October and charged with insulting President Abdoulaye Wade and reporting “false information” because of an article about his “nocturnal escapades.”
One of the newspaper’s employees, Pape Moussa Doukar, was subsequently arrested on an unknown date after the police discovered that Guèye’s newspaper has registered in his name. Both L’Exclusif and Le Courrier du Jour are small-circulation newspapers located in the Dakar suburbs.
Guèye and Doukar were scheduled to be questioned by an investigating judge yesterday and today.