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SENEGAL – RSF calls for release of investigative journalist

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the detention of journalist Pape Alé Niang, who has been charged, among other things, with disseminating information “harmful to security”. Our organisation calls for the journalist’s immediate release and calls on the authorities to protect press freedom.

He spent his first night in prison. On 9 November, investigative journalist Pape Alé Niang was charged and placed under arrest by a Senegalese judge. He is being prosecuted for disclosing information that is “injurious to national defence”, for receiving administrative and military documents, and for disseminating “false news that discredits public institutions”.

“It is anachronistic to see a journalist in prison in a country like Senegal, considered one of the most stable democracies in Africa and endowed with a plural and abundant media landscape. We call on the authorities to release journalist Pape Alé Niang and establish a dialogue with the media. Decriminalization of press offences is still not effective in Senegal and this continues to be a problem. The texts governing the media must be reviewed.”

Sadibou Marone, head of RSF’s Sub-Saharan Africa office.
Arrested on Sunday, November 6, Pope Alé Niang was taken into custody for three days and charged, before being imprisoned. Investigative journalist, director of the Dakar Matin news website and member of the Norbert Zongo Cell for Investigative Journalism in West Africa (CENOZO), Pape Alé Niang is used to dealing live with news topics. He had recently dealt with a case of alleged rape of a young masseuse by political opponent Ousmane Sonko, a case that was very much followed in Senegal.

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In a statement issued the day after his arrest, the Senegalese justice system, through the Public Prosecutor’s office, stated that it had “asked the police, in compliance with the requirements of press freedom, to open an investigation into the case”, saying that “repeated, unfounded and unacceptable attacks on defence and security forces” had been observed “for some time”. For his part, the Minister of the Armed Forces stressed that the protection of national defence secrecy falls under a strict legal regime applicable to all citizens.

In an interview with RSF, one of Pope Alé Niang’s lawyers, Mr Ciré Clédor Ly, described the charges against the journalist as a “mountain of heresies”. For RSF, these disproportionate charges could lead other journalists to self-censorship and block any investigative initiative in the name of the public’s right to information.

RSF joins the press associations in Senegal in calling for the journalist’s release.

Source : Reporters Without Borders

       

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