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Cablegate: More Arrests Under Niger's Criminal Libel Laws

VZCZCXRO2460
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #1095 3220441
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170441Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4685
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0735

UNCLAS NIAMEY 001095

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: More Arrests Under Niger's Criminal Libel Laws

REF: Niamey 0192

1. On November 12, Nigerien authorities arrested Moussa Aksar,
publication director for independent weekly newspaper "L'Evenement"
and his assistant Sani Aboubacar following a complaint by Ibrahim
Foukori, director of power company NIGELEC.

2. Foukori filed a criminal libel complaint against the two after an
article appeared in "L'Evenement" concerning the death of the Dutch
Honorary Consul, who died of cardiac arrest after an allegedly
heated argument with Foukori in the NIGELEC director's office. The
article also denounced what it described as Foukori's "illegal"
hiring of a relative of President Tandja's chief of staff for a
position at NIGELEC.
3. The hearing was scheduled for November 13, but has been continued
until November 17 due to the absence of the plaintiff's lawyer.
Meanwhile, Aksar and Aboubacar remain held in pre-trial custody at
Niamey's main prison.
4. The journalists' defense attorney expressed surprise at the
postponement, which he claims was completely unwarranted, and at the
prosecutor's refusal to agree to conditional release.
5. Aksar and Aboubacar's detentions follow on the heels of the
November 11, 2008 conviction of Alzouma Zakari, director of
independent opposition paper "Opinions," after a criminal libel
complaint by Niger's Interior Minister (reftel).
ALLEN

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