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Niger6 November 2003

Newspaper editor arrested

Reporters Without Borders called today on the Niger government to immediately free Mamane Abou, editor of the weekly paper Le Républicain, who was arrested on 5 November and accused of involvement in theft and publishing confidential finance ministry documents proving that the finance minister had embezzled several billion CFA francs (more than €1.5 million).

"We are appalled that the authorities are still targeting journalists as soon as they feel threatened," said secretary-general Robert Ménard. "Abou had the courage to criticise a minister’s corruption and he is unfortunately paying the price in this new intimidation bid by the authorities. Any journalist who criticises the country’s leaders is arrested and jailed for several days and sometimes weeks. We call on the authorities to stop harassing journalists."

After the allegations appeared in the paper on 15 July, Abou was summoned to appear before a Niamey court on 7 November. But the judge issued an arrest warrant on 5 November, claiming that Abou, who had just returned from a visit to France, was trying to avoid appearing. Police and the judge arrested him at the newspaper’s offices.



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