IFJ Calls on Niger to Release Journalist Accused of Links with Rebels

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the government of Niger to release journalist Moussa Kaka, who has been arrested and detained on charges of endangering the safety of the state for suspected links with Tuareg rebels.

“The accusations against Moussa are baseless and this masquerade only aims to intimidate journalists who cover the Northern Niger rebellion,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. “We call on the government of Niger to release immediately and unconditionally Moussa and to withdraw all the charges against him.”

Kaka, local correspondent of Radio France International (RFI) and director of the private Saraouniya radio station was arrested on Thursday by police officers at his radio’s offices. Kaka was held incommunicado until Saturday afternoon when his lawyer was aloud to visit him at a police station in Niamey, the capital city.

According to local sources, on Friday night the state prosecutor declared that Kaka was working “completely” or “in connivance” with the Tuareg-led rebels Niger Movement for Justice. The prosecutor added that the journalist will be tried on charges of passing state secrets to the rebels, thereby endangering the safety of the state.

In July the state media regulatory body Conseil Supérieur de la Communication (CSC) suspended RFI's FM broadcasts for allegedly biased reports about the rebellion.

In June the CSC also suspended for three months a local private newspaper Aïr Info, claiming articles about the Tuareg rebellion were inciting “hatred and violence and [trying] to break down the defence forces’ moral.” Three other newspapers received warning letters from the CSC for their coverage of the conflict. At the end of June, President of the CSC Daouda Diallo met private press managers and told them not to publish reports “attacking the democracy and the nation.”

“We call on the government to put an end to this plan of controlling media reports on the conflict and to let Niger’s journalists work in total safety and independence,” said Baglo.

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

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries worldwide