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Chad20 March 2008

Dismay at government’s decision to withdraw French reporter’s accreditation

Reporters Without Borders is dismayed to learn that the Chadian authorities have withdrawn the press accreditation of French journalist Sonia Rolley, the N’Djamena correspondent of Radio France Internationale (RFI) and Agence France-Presse (AFP), forcing her to leave the country.

“This punitive measure obliges us to remind President Idriss Déby Itno of an obvious principle, that it is up to RFI and not the Chadian government to decide who covers Chad,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“Furthermore, the departure of the only foreign reporter based in N’Djamena has reinforced a news blackout,” the organisation added. “Chad is now limited to a tame government press and an independent press that has been stripped of many of its journalists - forced into exile or gone underground - and which is threatened by an archaic and repressive media law.”

The Chadian government notified RFI headquarters in Paris on 18 March that Rolley’s accreditation had been “definitively” withdrawn. The authorities “suspended” her work permit last month, referring to a state of emergency that was proclaimed after a rebel attack on N’Djamena on 2 February.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the press during a brief visit to N’Djamena on 27 February that he had raised Rolley’s case with the government : “I made it very clear to the Chadian authorities that it would be an extremely disastrous signal, the expulsion of a journalist (...) so I said I hoped it would not happen.”



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