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Newspaper publisher Ali Soumana charged with defamation and publishing false information

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 6 April 2009, Ali Soumana, publisher of the independent Niamey-based weekly "Le Courrier", was arrested and detained at the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) following a defamation complaint brought against him by Seyni Salou, managing director of the state-owned water company, Eau du Niger (SPEN).

Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that Soumana, who was arrested around 2:00 p.m. (local time), was released on 7 April, after he appeared before the state prosecutor.

He has since been charged with two counts of "defamation" and "publishing false information" and will appear again at a later date.

In its 26 March edition, "Le Courrier" accused Seyni of engaging in "dirty business deals" with a Chinese geo-engineering company, which the newspaper claims was corrupt and fraudulent and has been blacklisted by the World Bank.

MFWA's correspondent reported that the newspaper also published, in the same article, a claim that since Prime Minister Seini Oumarou's appointment he "has become a powerful person and dabbles in everything,"

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