NIAMEY — The director of a news magazine in Niger, Ibrahim Soumana Gaoh, has been taken into custody and accused of defaming the communications minister, a Niger journalists' organisation announced Tuesday.
Gaoh was arrested on Sunday after the publication of an article implicating Communications Minister Mohamed Ben Omar in a financial scandal, according to Boubacar Diallo, chairman of the association of editors of the independent press (ANEPI).
Le Temoin, Gaoh's magazine, on September 14 accused the minister of having a hand in a "major financial misappropriation" at the west African country's telecommunications company SONITEL.
Ben Omar has lodged a defamation complaint against Gaoh, who was scheduled to appear before a prosecutor on Tuesday, Diallo told AFP.
In 2008, a parliamentary enquiry disclosed that several billion CFA francs (hundreds of thousands of dollars / euros) had been embezzled at SONITEL. The scandal led to the revoking of a licence by a Chinese-Libyan company that was the major shareholder.
SONITEL was subsequently nationalised again.
Another Niger journalist, Abdoulaye Tiemogo, director of the private review Le Canard Dechaine, has been in prison since August 18.
He was sentenced to three months in jail for having "discredited a judicial decision" by commenting on a private television channel on an arrest warrant issued by Niger authorities for former prime minister Hama Amadou, according to his lawyer Marc Lebihan.
Local professional lobby groups and international watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) have demanded Tiemogo's release.
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