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Niger21 November 2007

Reporters Without Borders meets detained journalist in Niamey prison

A Reporters Without Borders team led by secretary-general Robert Ménard met with detained journalist Moussa Kaka in Niamey prison twice in the past two days and has had talks with the authorities on the state of press freedom in Niger.

The director of privately-owned Radio Saraounia and the Niger correspondent of both Radio France Internationale and Reporters Without Borders, Kaka appeared to be in good physical shape and his morale remains high. He repeatedly thanked all those who have supported him since his arrest on 20 September, both those in Niger and abroad, and those who signed a petition calling for his release.

Reporters Without Borders gave him copies of the hundreds of messages of support received at , a special email address which the organisation created for him on 15 October. Moussa said he was not being treated badly, that he can receive visitors and that he was confident that he would eventually be released.

The organisation has met communication minister Mohammed Ben Omar, High Council for Communication chairman Daouda Diallo and public prosecutor Abderhamane Gayakoye to discuss Kaka’s case and that of Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, the editor of the privately-owned weekly Aïr Infos, who has been held since 9 October.

Reporters Without Borders also met Kaka’s family and lawyer, Niger journalists and representatives of media and journalists organisations, and a friend of Diallo who regularly visits him in prison in the northern city of Agadez, where Diallo lives and his newspaper is based.

At a news conference yesterday in Niamey, Ménard insisted on the need to “respect the principle of the presumption of innocence” and said he was “convinced” that the two journalists are innocent. He said there had been “important progress” in the Kaka case in the form of a decision by the investigating judge that all the telephone intercepts (on which the charges are based) are illegal. The prosecutor’s office has appealed against this decision and the Niamey criminal court of appeal is expected to issue a ruling in the next few days.

Ménard said Reporters Without Borders had listened to the government express its concern about the security situation in the north of the country and the need to combat the armed rebel movements. He insisted on the recognition by everyone of Niger’s sovereignty and the efforts it has made since the start of the year to improve the press freedom situation.

Finally, Ménard hailed the “courageous and independent” work on behalf of respect for the rule of law undertaken by a number of judges who were recently named in connection with a series of reforms in the judicial system.

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