Reporters Without Borders today noted the release from prison of Abdoulaye Tiémogo, editor of the independent weekly Le Canard déchaîné, after his sentence was reduced on appeal.
The journalist, who is in poor health, had been held in custody since 1st August. He had been found guilty of “discrediting a judicial decision”.
Tiémogo told Reporters Without Borders after his release on 26 October that he was happy to be home. “I now hope to rest with my family and then I will see a doctor to get treatment for my malaria and stomach disorders. After that I will resume work at the newspaper."
He said prison conditions in Ouallam, south-western Niger were appalling. “There were almost 20 of us in cells designed for four of five people”.
Referring to his hounding at the hands of the authorities, the journalist said, “I have been arrested five times since 2000. In 2003, I was given an eight-month sentence and this year I had to seek refuge in Mali for seven months. This latest arrest was very unpleasant and all the more so since the charge against me was baseless.”
“We have said from day one that the conviction and imprisonment of Abdoulaye Tiémogo then his transfer from hospital in Niamey to Ouallam jail were unfair and shocking”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
“We are naturally relieved that he has been released but we believe this decision could have been made much sooner,” it added.
The Niamey appeal court on 26 October reduced Tiémogo’s sentence from three to two months although it upheld his conviction. Since he had already served 86 days in prison, he was released on the same day and was back home by the evening.
01.09.2009 - Journalist prisoner snatched from his hospital bed
Reporters Without Borders said today it was shocked to learn that journalist Abdoulaye Tiémogo, who was recently sentenced to three months in jail, was yesterday dragged from his hospital bed and transferred to another prison 100 km north of the capital Niamey.
Abdoulaye Tiémogo, publisher of the independent weekly Le Canard déchaîné, who has a bad case of malaria, was removed from his bed against the advice of doctors in the major hospital in the capital, by members of the National Intervention and Security Force (FNIS, formerly the Republican Guard).
The worldwide press freedom organisation said it had learned that he was now being held in Ouallam jail, in an area which it is difficult to access.
“The Nigerian authorities are now adding cruelty to injustice”, the organisation said. “Not only is Tiémogo innocent, but he is sick and we demand that he receives the treatment he needs. This removal to a provincial prison is outrageous, and even more so since it takes him far from his family”, it added.
Tiémogo, who was jailed last month on a charge of “discrediting a judicial decision”, was taken to hospital on 23 August with acute malaria.
18.08.2009 - Newspaper publisher gets three months in jail for criticising arrest warrant
Reporters Without Borders condemns the three-month jail sentence which a Niamey court passed today on Abdoulaye Tiémogo, the publisher of the independent weekly Le Canard Déchaîné, on a charge of “discrediting a judicial decision.”
“It is the decision to sentence a journalist to imprisonment that discredits Niger’s judicial system,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This comes just two weeks after eight newspaper publishers were detained for questioning. How far are the authorities prepared to go to prevent independent journalists from doing their work?”
Tiémogo, who is being held in a Niamey prison, has appealed against the sentence. The trial began on 11 August, six days after he was arrested over an article several weeks earlier about a prosecutor’s decision to issue an international arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Hama Amadou on a charge of corruption.
The political situation in Niger is fraught as a result of President Mamadou Tandja’s decision to hold a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run for a third term. On 29 June, he dissolved the constitutional court after it rejected his referendum project three times.
On 14 August, a new constitutional court endorsed the results of the referendum finally held on 4 August, thereby proclaiming a “6th Republic” and allowing Tandja to remain in power for another three years before running for reelection.