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Newspaper publisher gets three months in jail for criticising arrest warrant

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the three-month jail sentence which a Niamey court passed on 18 August 2009 on Abdoulaye Tiémogo, the publisher of the independent weekly "Le Canard Déchaîné", on a charge of "discrediting a judicial decision."

"It is the decision to sentence a journalist to imprisonment that discredits Niger's judicial system," Reporters Without Borders said. "This comes just two weeks after eight newspaper publishers were detained for questioning. How far are the authorities prepared to go to prevent independent journalists from doing their work?"

Tiémogo, who is being held in a Niamey prison, has appealed against the sentence. The trial began on 11 August, six days after he was arrested over an article several weeks earlier about a prosecutor's decision to issue an international arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Hama Amadou on a charge of corruption.

The political situation in Niger is fraught as a result of President Mamadou Tandja's decision to hold a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run for a third term. On 29 June, he dissolved the constitutional court after it rejected his referendum project three times.

On 14 August, a new constitutional court endorsed the results of the referendum finally held on 4 August, thereby proclaiming a "6th Republic" and allowing Tandja to remain in power for another three years before running for reelection.

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