Abdoulaye Tiémogo was remanded in custody on 20 June and transferred to
the civil prison in Niamey. He was not told when he would be tried.
Abdoulaye Tiémogo, publication director of the satirical weekly Le Canard déchaîné, was arrested on 18 June 2002 further to Prime Minister Hama Amadou’s filing of a complaint for "defamation". Reporters Without Borders has urged the prime minister to withdraw his complaint and see to it that the journalist is released immediately.
"Abdoulaye Tiémogo has been arrested three times since October 2001 and has spent almost two months behind bars. A member of the government has been behind the legal action each time," deplored Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Ménard. The organisation asked the prime minister to demonstrate his commitment to press freedom by reigning in his ministers, who "unrelentingly try to silence an investigative journalist who is especially critical of them." Ménard also recalled that, "as a sentence for the crime of defamation, imprisonment constitutes a serious human rights violation."
According to information collected by Reporters Without Borders, Criminal Investigation Department officers in Niamey placed Tiémogo in police custody on 18 June, in the late afternoon. The prime minister filed a complaint against Tiémogo because he felt "defamed and insulted" by three highly critical articles that were published in the latest issue of Le Canard déchaîné. The journalist notably accused Amadou of seeking to bribe the speaker of the National Assembly in order to retain his post as prime minister.
Just over one month ago, Tiémogo was jailed for two weeks after Amadou filed a complaint. He was placed in police custody on 17 May, one week after hosting a debate on the private radio station Tambara FM. During the debate, Sanoussi Jackou, president of the Parti Nigérien pour l’Autogestion (PNA), a small opposition party, accused the prime minister of ethnic and regional discrimination in the appointment of high state officials. Jackou was also arrested, as was Abarad Mouddour Zakara, publication director of his newspaper La Roue de l’histoire, following the commerce minister’s filing of a complaint for "defamation". They were released on 29 May after being sentenced to a four-month suspended jail sentence and a fine of 100,000 CFA francs.
On 19 October 2001, the Niamey First Instance Tribunal sentenced Tiémogo to six months’ imprisonment for "defamation". Agriculture Minister Wassalké Boukari had filed a complaint against Le Canard Déchaîné following its publication of an article alleging that he had embezzled 200 million CFA francs (approx. US$294,000; 305,000 euros) from a gold-mining area in the west of the country. The minister withdrew his complaint on 7 December, at the start of the appeals trial, and the journalist was subsequently released.