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RFI and RSF correspondent held incommunicado

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate release of Moussa Kaka, director of privately-owned Radio Saraouniya station and Niger correspondent of Radio France Internationale and Reporters Without Borders, who was arrested on 20 September 2007 and who is being held at police headquarters in Niamey.

The press freedom organisation has been told Kaka could soon be charged with "violating national security" and that his arrest may be linked to that of a French filmmaker who has been held for more than three weeks for contacting Tuareg rebels.

"Our correspondent's arrest indicates that, under pressure from the Tuareg rebellion, the Niger authorities are taking a tougher line," Reporters Without Borders said. "President Mamadou Tandja should realise this will just make the situation worse. Trying to conceal an awkward reality will not make it go away."

Kaka was arrested at about 6 p.m. (local time) at his radio station in Niamey and was taken to police headquarters, where he has been held ever since. The police searched his home and took the draft of a report he had sent to RFI. The authorities have not said why he is being held. Under Niger law, the police can hold a suspect incommunicado for 24 hours before allowing him to see a lawyer.

Reporters Without Borders was told his arrest is linked to the case of French independent filmmaker François Bergeron, who was arrested in Agadez on 27 August and was transferred to Niamey on 3 September. Bergeron is accused of "violating national security" for contacting the Tuareg Rebels of the Niger People's Movement for Justice (MNJ), an armed group that emerged at the start of the year. The government describes its leaders as "bandits."

Radio Saraouniya is an independent station that has given extensive coverage to the MNJ's deadly attacks on military bases in the north and interviewed one of its leaders, Agali Alambo. Kaka was publicly threatened by army chief of staff Gen. Moumouni Boureima on 14 July. Thereafter, RFI's local FM broadcasts were suspended for a month by the media regulatory authority, the Superior Council for Communication (CSC), for "disseminating mendacious reports" about the MNJ (see IFEX alert of 20 July 2007).

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