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Djibouti4 June 2003

Newspaper editor Daher Ahmed Farah is released provisionally

Daher Ahmed Farah, editor of the newspaper Le Renouveau and head of the opposition Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development (MRD), was released on 3 June from Gabode prison in Djibouti where he had been held since 20 April on a charge of libelling army chief of staff Gen. Zakaria Cheik Ibrahim.

Farah told Reporters Without Borders that the judicial authorities finally granted his request for provisional release. An investigating judge must decide in the coming days whether to dismiss the charge or send the case to trial. He said he was held in solitary confinement in a small cell which he could not leave, and that only his mother was allowed to visit him.

An application for provisional release had been made by Stéphane Zerbib of Lawyers Without Borders, who visited Djibouti from 26 to 30 May to defend Farah at the request of Reporters Without Borders. The libel charge stemmed from an article in Le Renouveau accusing the army of lacking "neutrality" and saying it " should be apolitical."

Farah has been detained several times in the past few years. In most cases, he was convicted of a press crime and was given a prison term or a fine. On 15 March, he was detained for a day and fined for "endangering the army’s morale."

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