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Niger15 January 2008

Appeal court defers decision on legality of phone taps in Moussa Kaka case until 12 February

A Niamey appeal court has deferred a key decision in the case of detained journalist Moussa Kaka until 12 February for further consultation, a Reporters Without Borders delegation learned on arriving today in Niger. The Niamey correspondent of Radio France Internationale and Reporters Without Borders, Kaka is charged with “complicity in a breach of state authority.”

The appeal court has to decide whether the transcripts of Kaka’s tapped phone conversations can be used in evidence against him. Lawyers representing Kaka told the court that the phone intercepts were carried out in a “secret, clandestine and anonymous fashion” and were therefore completely illegal.

One of his lawyers, French attorney William Bourdon, explained that “phone taps are banned” in such circumstances in Niger, just as they are in France. He argued to the judges that their decision had implications “not just for Moussa Kaka but also for the future of Niger.” He also told them he understood why “they gave themselves time to reflect” and that he trusted their decision.

Led by secretary-general Robert Ménard, the Reporters Without Borders delegation arrived in Niamey this morning with the brothers of two French reporters, Thomas Dandois and Pierre Creisson, who have been detained since 17 December. The delegation is to visit Dandois and Creisson, and their driver Al-Hassane Abdourahman, who is also detained, and to meet with the authorities with the aim of obtaining their rapid release.

The delegation also plans to visit Kaka in Niamey prison, where he has been held since late September for allegedly “conniving” with the Tuareg rebels of the MNJ, and it will try to convince the judicial authorities to release him and Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, the editor of the weekly Aïr Info, who has been held in Agadez since late October on similar charges.

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