Panafrican News Agency

Reporters Without Borders condemns arbitrary arrests of journalists in Niger

Paris, France (PANA) - Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the arrest of two journalists in Niger last month as a serious setback to the gains in press freedom observed in the country in recent years.

Ali Soumana, editor of Le Courrier newspaper and also member of the Norbert Zongo Unit for Investigative Journalism in West Africa (CENOZO), was freed on Tuesday after spending two days in police custody following a summons on 12 July by the Niamey judicial police.

He was accused of "writing and disseminating false information" in an article published the previous day and widely shared on social networks, in connection with a case of overcharging for military equipment.

Samira Sabou, a journalist, popular blogger, and administrator of the news website, has been held since her arrest on 10 June in connection with the same case.

She is accused for defamation by the Nigerien president's son, Sani Issoufou Mahamadou, who is also deputy chief of staff at the presidency, after she implicated him on social networks. The outcome of her trial is expected on 28 July. 

"We call for the drop of the charges against the released journalist and the release of the journalist who is still in prison. These arrests also show the dangers that the new cyber-crime law poses to journalism in Niger. The breakthrough of ending custodial sentences for press offences must not be circumvented in order to attack the online media. Journalists are not cyber criminals," said Arnaud Froger, head of RSF's Africa office, in a statement on Thursday, a copy of which was sent to PANA in Paris. 

Niger currently occupies 57th position out of 180 countries in the 2020 edition of the World Press Freedom Ranking published annually by RSF after an upward trend of nine places compared to 2019. 
-0- PANA WB/BEH/MTA/AR 16July2020