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Malian editor detained following publication of critical letter

UPDATE: Media suspend operations to press for editor's release (RSF, 11 March 2013)

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns yesterday's arrest by the state security service of Le Républicain editor Boukary Ndaou, who is still being held in an unknown location.

No charge has so far been announced but his arrest came just hours after his newspaper published an open letter by a soldier criticising President Dioncounda Traoré for the “benefits granted” to Capt. Amadou Sanogo, an army officer who led a military coup in March 2012.

“Mali's current problems do not justify intimidating journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Arresting a journalist who draws attention to the dissension within the armed forces since last year's coup just contributes to the instability. The press must be free to cover the most sensitive subjects in order to facilitate a return to stable democracy and respect for human rights, and we therefore call for Ndaou's immediate release.”

Ndaou was arrested at the newspaper shortly after midday yesterday by six state security officials. He has not been formally charged and the newspaper's staff do not know where he is being held.

Le Républicain's front page story yesterday was the open letter by a certain Capt. Touré, identified as a member of the Malian forces currently stationed in the northern city of Gao, and his criticism of Capt. Sanogo, the former coup leader, who was appointed last month as General Secretary of the Military Committee for Monitoring the Reform of the Defence and Security Forces.

In his letter, Capt. Touré said he and his troops would suspend military operations in the north if President Traoré did not rescind the financial benefits granted to Capt. Sanogo and the other members of this Military Committee.

In a statement published today, the staff of Le Républicain voiced concern about recent media freedom violations and added: “Le Républicain respects media ethics and will never yield to any kind of threats. Long live media freedom in a democratic Mali.”

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