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Magistrate rejects illegally-obtained evidence against RFI journalist; IFJ urges president to ensure his and another journalist's release

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 22 November 2007 IFJ media release:

IFJ Urges President of Niger to Take Action for the Release of Two Jailed Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today urged President Mamadou Tandja of Niger to take strong action for the release of two journalists accused of criminal offences following their coverage of the Tuareg rebellion in Niger.

"We are very worried about the continued detention of our colleagues and the serious charges they face stemming from their professional work," wrote Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office in a letter to President Tandja.

Moussa Kaka, Niger correspondent of Radio France International (RFI) and director of privately-owned Radio Saraouniya, was arrested on 20 September by police officers and has been held since then.

Kaka was charged with "involvement in a plot against the state's authority" for suspected links with the Tuareg-led rebels Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ). The authorities have been tapping Kaka's telephone conversations with MNJ members.

On November 16, a magistrate decided not to accept as evidence the tapes of Kaka's conversations with the rebels, as they were not obtained legally.

"This was the only evidence the prosecution had in its case. Without any further evidence against him there is no longer any reason for Moussa to be charged or detained," wrote Baglo.

Journalist Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, editor of the private newspaper Aïr-Info, has also been detained since his arrest by police on October 9 and was charged with "criminal association" on accusations that he has links with the MNJ.

The IFJ believes that these charges are also baseless and should be dropped immediately.

The IFJ called on President Tandja to take immediate action to secure the release of Kaka and Diallo and to ensure that all the charges against them are dropped.

Click here to view the letter to President Mamadou Tandja: http://www.ifj.org/pdfs/LetterNiger_en.pdf

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

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