- The Libyan leader, Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi, has filed a suit against three independent weekly newspapers based in the Nigerien capital Niamey for publishing "false information" capable of undermining his [Muammar al-Gaddafi‘s] honour.
The sued newspapers are ‘L'Evènement‘, le ‘Canard Déchaîné’ and ‘L'Action,’ according to the Accra-based Media Foundation for West Africa.
The case is expected to be heard on 17 September 2007.
The papers had earlier published several articles, accusing Col Muammar al-Gaddafi of providing financial and logistical support to the "Mouvement des Nigériens pour la Justice" (MNJ), an armed group operating in the northern part of Niger.
Although the editors of the three newspapers could be jailed for three years as well as pay damages ranging from US $20 to US $2,000 upon conviction, but the Libyan leader’s lawyers are asking the court to fine each of the newspapers US $200,000 for defamation.
Last month, the Supreme Council of Communication suspended the licence of a bi-weekly privately-owned newspaper, ‘Air Info’, based in Niger’s second city, Agadez, accusing it of giving coverage to the northern rebels.
The paper subsequently lost the annual state subsidy enjoyed by the Nigerien media.
'Air Info's' troubles with the state were exacerbated by its publication of an articles and photographs of the rebel fighters of the MNJ.
Disturbed by the paper's rebel coverage, the government thought it prudent to punish 'Air Info' for what it [the government] referred to as "praising the armed rebellion".
The editor of 'L'evenement' was also among the three newspaper editors accused by the government of turning their publications into propaganda tools of the MNJ.
The MNJ rebels threatened to continue to fight until such a time that the government is ready to engage them in dialogues or peace talks. Nigerien government had maintained that MNJ is a group of bandits bent on killing innocent civilians.
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