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Senegalese journalists arrested over military coverage

Senegalese soldiers are seen in Dakar, 27 February 2012
Senegalese soldiers are seen in Dakar, 27 February 2012

REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 21 July 2015.

Reporters Without Borders calls on the Senegalese authorities to drop the charges of “violating defence secrecy” that have been brought upon Alioune Badara Fall, the publisher of L'Observateur newspaper, and one of his reporters, Mamadou Seck.

Fall and Seck were charged after being summoned to the headquarters of the investigative section of the gendarmerie in Dakar on 15 July and questioned for several hours about a report that Senegalese troops were being sent to participate in the Saudi-led military operations in Yemen.

Mamadou Wane, the publisher of the newspaper Enquête, was also briefly detained the same day in connection with a report posted on the newspaper's website about appointments within the armed forces.

During their holding, all were asked to reveal their sources.

“We are worried about these arrests,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Until now, Senegal has been one of the African countries where media freedom is mostly firmly established. Regional security concerns should not be used as grounds for reducing the space for democratic expression or trample the basics of press freedom such as confidentiality of sources. We urge the judicial authorities to drop all charges against these journalists.”

A local analyst said the threat of terrorism in West Africa has rendered the Senegalese authorities less inclined to tolerate media coverage of military matters.

The Senegalese parliament has delayed adoption of a new press code and has yet to decriminalize media offences. Senegal was ranked 71st out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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