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Editor of sole newspaper in Agadez arrested at airport, accused of being RFI correspondent

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF calls for the immediate release of Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, managing editor of the privately-owned bi-monthly "Aïr Info", published in Agadez, northern Niger, who was arrested on 9 October 2007 at Niamey airport as he prepared to board a plane for France.

Niger border police seized Manzo Diallo as he was going through the departure area for a late night Air France flight to Paris, bundled him into a taxi and drove him to the headquarters of the Judicial Police (Police judiciaire, PJ).

He was interrogated for much of the night, before being moved to the police station in the morning, where he is still being held. Local journalists who managed to visit him said he is being accused of being "the correspondent for Radio France Internationale (RFI) in Agadez".

"The intolerance of the Niger government has reached a critical state with this irrational arrest," RSF said. "Not only is it not a crime to be the correspondent for RFI, but on top of this Ibrahim Manzo Diallo does not work for that radio station. This government, which seems to have lost any sense of proportion and justice, must now release him, along with Moussa Kaka," it added.

"Aïr-Info" was closed for three months in June for having allegedly "incited violence" in the conflict in the region between the army and the Touareg rebels of the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ). In July, Manzo Diallo was arrested by police in Agadez after launching a new weekly.

"Aïr-Info", founded by this former professor of literature in 2002, has a circulation of about 1,500 and is the only newspaper published in the province.

Moussa Kaka, director of privately-owned Radio Saraouniya, correspondent in Niger for RFI and RSF, was arrested on 20 September. He was charged with "collusion in a plot against state authority" for having had regular contact with rebels of the MNJ (see IFEX alerts of 27 and 21 September and 20 July 2007).

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