Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard and the brothers of two French journalists detained in Niger, Thomas Dandois and Pierre Creisson, gave a news conference this afternoon at Orly airport in Paris on their return from a three-day visit to Niger, during which they visited the journalists in prison and argued their cause with the authorities.
Marc Dandois and Jean-Michel Creisson said their brothers were being “treated well by local standards” but their morale was going “up and down” in line with the developments in their case. Confessing to being “very happy” to take his brother in his arms, Creisson said the two journalists “don’t know where they stand as [the authorities] blow hot and cold all the time, and they are afraid the judicial procedures could get bogged down.”
Ménard said he was optimistic that “things will get unblocked very soon” even if the authorities were giving “contradictory signals”about the fate of the two French journalists and their Nigerien driver. “The politicians clearly do not want this case to drag on indefinitely,” he said, pointing out that in the cases of all the journalists currently detained in Niger, there are “judicial deadlines that could allow everyone to be freed in the course of the coming month.”
Ménard said French diplomats were already “mobilised” but it was time they were “even more mobilised” and it was now “necessary for France to shift into a higher gear.” He added that he was “disappointed” because “perhaps naively” he had hoped that there would have been “concrete” developments during the visit because “they are, after, all, innocent.”
The Reporters Without Borders delegation met communication minister Mohamed Ben Omar, justice minister Mamadou Dagra, French ambassador Alain Holleville, High Council for Communication president Daouda Diallo and representatives of the privately-owned press. A request for a meeting with President Mamadou Tandja was unsuccessful.
There were two meetings with each of the two French journalists, at the Kollo prison camp, where they are being held, and at the Niamey law courts. The delegation also visited their driver, Al-Hassane Abdourahman, whose prison conditions at Kollo are worse than those in which the French journalists are being held.
The Reporters Without Borders delegation was also able to pay another visit to its correspondent, Moussa Kaka, who has been held in Niamey prison since the end of September. The press freedom organisation saw him for the first time in November, during a previous visit to Niger to give support to the detained Nigerien journalists. Kaka is also the manager of privately-owned Radio Saraounia and Radio France Internationale’s correspondent.