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Niger17 September 2003

Journalist jailed after criticising government

Reporters Without Border expressed concern today at the imprisonment of Ibrahim Souley, editor of the Niger weekly l’Enquêteur, for exposing embezzlement in the handing out of government contracts and called for his immediate release.

"We don’t understand why the authorities have jailed him, since he was simply doing his job of informing the public, which in no way justifies his imprisonment," said the organisation’s secretary-general, Robert Ménard.

Souley and the paper’s founder, Soumana Maïga, were arrested on 13 September. Maïga was freed a few hours later but Souley was held by police for two days without visiting rights before being sent to Niamey prison on 16 September. His trial has been set for 7 October.

The state prosecutor has complained of an article in issue 169 of the paper accusing the government of contributing to the sudden wealth of local businessman Djibo Zakou. It said business people from eastern Niger were angry that Zakou, who comes from the western part of the country, had got "juicy contracts."

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