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Private radio station director imprisoned for over one month

(RSF/IFEX) - In a letter to Colonel Azali Assoumani, RSF protested the lengthy detention of Cheikh Ali Cassim, director of the private radio station Tropic FM. The organisation asked the head of state to "see to it that the journalist is immediately released". RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard noted that "to our knowledge, he merely exercised his right to inform." "We also ask Comoros authorities to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 19 of which guarantees freedom of expression," added Ménard.

According to information collected by RSF, on 15 August 2000, Cheikh Ali Cassim was arrested by soldiers at his home in Moroni. The journalist was then taken to the military base in Mde (3 km south of the capital). He is accused of "undermining state security through the illegal detention of firearms". His house was searched, but apparently the soldiers did not find any arms. The examining judge responsible for the case gave it up after the authorities refused his request to have the journalist transferred to a civilian prison. No one has been appointed to replace the judge.

Finally, RSF recalled that Tropic FM is the only private radio station which broadcasts news reports in the Comoros Islands. In May 1999, the station was temporarily closed by the authorities and Cheikh Ali Cassim's home was burned down.

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