Niger arrests editor over corruption report

Authorities in the west African nation of Niger have arrested the editor of a weekly newspaper over an article on alleged government corruption, a global media watchdog said on Wednesday.

Police arrested Boussada Ben Ali, managing editor of the weekly L’Action, late last week, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said. On Monday, Ali was moved from police holding cells to the main prison in the capital Niamey after he was charged with “divulging information likely to undermine public order”, said the CPJ in a statement.

The charge is linked to a January 13 story alleging that the Economy and Finance Ministry awarded a medical supply contract without going through an open bidding process.

The case is the latest in a series of recent crackdowns on the media in Niger.

CPJ’s Africa programme coordinator Tom Rhodes said the jailing of Ali “is part of a disturbing pattern of criminal defamation prosecutions to censor and intimidate investigative journalists”.

Six journalists were last year sentenced to prison in Niger for reporting on graft and mismanagement in the government, according to the CPJ.

“Niger would do better to follow up on the allegations of corruption and wrongdoing unearthed by the press rather than imprison journalists performing a public service,” said Rhodes.—Sapa-AFP

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