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Cablegate: Journalist Tiemogo Released From Prison

VZCZCXRO1423
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0838 3001501
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271501Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5408
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC

UNCLAS NIAMEY 000838

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL/AE, AND AF/PDPA SANCHEZCROWE
PLS PASS TO USAID FOR AFR/W
ACCRA ALSO FOR USAID WA
PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM SOCI PGOV KPAO NG
SUBJECT: Journalist Tiemogo Released from Prison

Ref: a) Niamey 000567, b) Niamey 00619

1. (U) Summary: Authorities released journalist Abdoulaye Tiemogo
of the weekly independent newspaper "Le Canard Dechaine" from prison
on October 26 after accepting an appeal to commute his sentence.
Held in prison since August 1, officials had accused Tiemogo of
having "discredited a judicial decision" by publically criticizing
an arrest warrant issued against former Prime Minister Hama Amadou.
Meanwhile, Niger dropped nine spots in the recent Reporters without
Borders Press Freedom Index to 139, the worst ranking in West
Africa. End summary.

2. (U) Authorities released Abdoulaye Tiemogo, Director of
Publications of the independent weekly newspaper "Le Canard
Dechaine," on October 26 after more than two months in prison.
Security forces detained Tiemogo along with seven other independent
journalists on August 1, just before the August 4 referendum to
consider the adoption of a new constitution to expand and extend the
President's authority. The judiciary charged Tiemogo with
"discrediting a judicial decision" for his statements on the private
television channel Dounia criticizing the issuance of an arrest
warrant for former Prime Minister Hama Amadou (ref A). On August
18, a court convicted and sentenced him to three months'
imprisonment, which he appealed.

3. (U) Post issued a press statement on August 17 calling for the
release of Tiemogo and for the return to respect for the rule of law
and the freedom of the press. Independent media provided wide and
positive coverage for the statement (ref B).

4. (SBU) After contracting acute malaria, authorities moved Tiemogo
to a Niamey hospital for treatment on August 23. On August 31,
National Intervention and Security Forces (FNIS) transferred Tiemogo
abruptly and against the advice of his physician to a remote prison
in Ouallam, 100 km north of Niamey. According to the president of
the local Network of Journalists for Human Rights, Abdourahamane
Ousmane, this was done deliberately to isolate Tiemogo, consequently
putting his health at risk. (Note: Ousmane attended the Sept. 26 -
Oct. 16, 2009 IVLP Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists. End
note.) Post talked with Tiemogo after his release, who said his
health had recovered.

5. (U) On October 26, the Niamey Court of Appeal ordered the
Tiemogo's release after reducing his prison term from three months
to two, according to President Boubacar Diallo with the Nigerien
Association for Independent Press Editors (ANEPI).

6. (U) Note: In the 2009 Press Freedom Index published by Reporters
without Borders on October 20, Niger dropped nine places from last
year's report to 139 out of 175 countries worldwide, the worst
ranking in West Africa. End note.

ALLEN

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