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Cablegate: Nigerien Journalist Convicted, Released

VZCZCXRO0827
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #1092 3190523
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 140523Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4681
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0734

UNCLAS NIAMEY 001092

DEPT FOR AF/W DENNISON, AF/RSA, DRL/AE, AND AF/PDPA LISENBY

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI KCOR KPAO NG
SUBJECT: Nigerien Journalist Convicted, Released

Ref: Niamey 1069

1. On November 11, a local court convicted Nigerien journalist
Alzouma Zakari under Niger's criminal libel statute. The court
sentenced him to three months imprisonment (sentence suspended),
fined him 100,000 F CFA (approximately $200), and released him. He
must also pay symbolic damages in the amount of one F CFA to the
Minister of Interior, who filed the original criminal defamation
complaint against him.

2. Zakari is a journalist and publication director for the
pro-opposition independent weekly "Opinions." Officials arrested
him under Niger's criminal libel statutes after Minister Abouba
filed a complaint in response to a recently-published article
alleging corruption in the granting of a government contract
(reftel).

3. Comment: Although the court convicted Zakari, the swift
resolution of his case marks a welcomed departure from previous
cases involving journalists, where prosecutors used continuances and
other delaying tactics to detain defendants for lengthy periods
while opposing requests for provisional release. End comment.

ALLEN

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