IFJ Demands Release of Niger Editor Arrested for Libel and Contempt of Court

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the authorities of Niger to release editor, Aboubacar Gourouza, charged with libeling a political leader and for contempt of court.

“We can’t understand why the authorities in Niger have decided to persecute the journalists at this point,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. “It is wrong for journalists to be imprisoned for libel, but it is an outrage that a journalist can be jailed on the basis of a ‘complaint’ before even going to trial.”

Aboubacar Gourouza the editor of L’Eveil Plus newspaper was arrested on Tuesday 26 February after two complaints were lodged against him. A former youth leader of the ruling MNSD party, Moussa Keita said he was defamed in an article published by L’Eveil Plus on 29 January. According to the article Keita was involved in a plot to convict the President of MNSD and former Prime Minister Hama Amadou for “complicity in the arson of a car”.

In the same edition of the paper Gourouza wrote a story about Aboubacar Seydou Ganda, an official jailed three months ago for embezzlement. The editor said the trial of Ganda was not advancing “as if this slowness was fine for some business” and looked like “a political payback time”.

Gourouza was due to appear before a court today.

The IFJ also renewed its call for the release and the discharge of the journalist Moussa Kaka, who has been jailed since September 2007 for “involvement in a plot against the state's authority” for alleged links with the rebels of the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ). On 12 February a Niamey appeals court had denied him bail.

For further information contact the IFJ: +221 33 842 01 43

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries