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Private radio station closed for broadcasting testimonies of soldiers' victims

(RSF/IFEX) - The following is an abridged translation of a 22 April 2008 RSF press release:

Reporters Without Borders condemns the closure of the private radio station Sahara FM, the main station in Agadez, northern Niger, by the media regulatory body in Niger (Conseil supérieur de la communication, CSC), saying it is an authoritarian decision which will only worsen the situation in the north of the country.

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On 22 April 2008, the CSC ordered the indefinite closure of Sahara FM after the radio station broadcast testimonies from victims of soldiers' attacks. In its official report, the CSC indicates that this decision was made "without ruling out possible criminal charges".

On 18 April, Raliou Hamed-Assaleh, the radio station manager, was summoned in Niamey, after both the Agadez governor and police commissioner had complained about the broadcasting of allegedly "dangerous" testimonies of people living in the region, under the pretext that they "call for ethnic hatred and sap the army's moral." "We simply broadcast the account of things that were experienced in real life," said Hamed-Assaleh.

On 3 April, Amnesty International published a report on a "new wave of extra-judicial executions" and "forced disappearances" by the Nigerian army in the Agadez region.

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