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Niger1 August 2008

Newspaper editor freed after being held for 48 hours

Moussa Aksar, the editor of the Niamey-based independent weekly L’Evénement, was released today after being questioned by a Niamey prosecutor and charged with “divulging a defence secret.” He is expected to be summoned to appear in court soon.

Aksar was arrested on 30 July after reporting that an army officer, Abdoulaye Mounkaila, had been linked to an arms cache that was discovered in Niamey.

31.07.2008 - Newspaper editor in police custody on charge of publishing false information

Reporters Without Borders calls for the release of Moussa Aksar, the editor of the Niamey-based independent weekly L’Evénement, who was arrested yesterday on a charge of publishing “false information” after the newspaper linked an army officer to the assassination of a former president.

“Arresting a journalist does nothing to resolve cases of defamation or damage to reputation,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Acting in this manner can only aggravate the already tense relations between the government and independent press and we therefore call on Niger’s courts to free Aksar at once.”

Aksar has been held at the headquarters of the criminal investigation police since his arrest yesterday and has not been able to receive visits.

The Niger Association of Independent Press Editors (ANEPI) said Aksar was arrested for putting the photo of an army officer on the front page of the 29 July issue and for reporting that he was involved in the April 1999 assassination of military President Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara and was the owner of a recently-discovered arms cache.

In this country
3 April - Niger
In latest judicial harassment of broadcasting group, director-general charged with “false news”
6 February - Niger
Editor of the weekly L’Action sentenced to three months in prison
18 November - Niger
Two l’Evénement journalists given suspended prison sentences for defamation
12 November - Niger
Newspaper editor freed after being given suspended prison sentence
7 October - Niger
Court orders journalist’s provisional release after more than a year in detention

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