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Editor freed after more than two months in custody

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders notes the release from prison of Abdoulaye Tiémogo, editor of the independent weekly "Le Canard Déchaîné", after his sentence was reduced on appeal.

The journalist, who is in poor health, had been in custody since 1 August 2009 after being found guilty of "discrediting a judicial decision."

Tiémogo told Reporters Without Borders after his release on 26 October that he was happy to be home. "I now hope to rest with my family and then I will see a doctor to get treatment for my malaria and stomach disorders. After that I will resume work at the newspaper."

He said prison conditions in Ouallam, south-western Niger were appalling. "There were almost 20 of us in cells designed for four or five people."

Referring to his hounding at the hands of the authorities, the journalist said, "I have been arrested five times since 2000. In 2003, I was given an eight-month sentence and this year I had to seek refuge in Mali for seven months. This latest arrest was very unpleasant and all the more so since the charge against me was baseless."

"We have said from day one that the conviction and imprisonment of Abdoulaye Tiémogo then his transfer from hospital in Niamey to Ouallam jail were unfair and shocking," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"We are naturally relieved that he has been released but we believe this decision could have been made much sooner," it added.

The Niamey appeal court on 26 October reduced Tiémogo's sentence from three to two months although it upheld his conviction. Since he had already served 86 days in prison, he was released on the same day and was back home by the evening.
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