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France6 January 2003

Two Malian journalists arresting for filming deportation at airport

Reporters Without Borders protested today at the arrest of two Malian journalists who filmed the deportation of a group of Malian illegal immigrants on a plane at a Paris airport.

The two journalists, Youssouf Touré, a reporter for the Malian state TV company ORTM, and cameraman Boubakar Diallo, were "simply doing their job by trying to inform the public about the unacceptable practices of the French police," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

"We call on you to amend the law banning filming or photographing in restricted areas to prevent it being used as an excuse to reduce the freedom to inform the public," he said.

The Malian journalists were in a plane about to leave for Bamako, the Malian capital, from Charles de Gaulle airport when fighting broke out between police and those being deported. They filmed police beating one handcuffed immigrant at the back of the aircraft.

The police made the journalists get off the plane, seized the cameraman’s film and accused them of "filming in a plane and obstructing the movement of aircraft." They were held for two and a half hours and then freed after intervention by the Malian embassy in Paris. The confiscated film was not returned.

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