- Nigerien authorities have denied visa to the Secretary General of Rapporteur sans frontières (RSF) to participate in a special day of solidarity organised in honour of the organisation's imprisoned correspondent, Moussa Kaka.
The day event, which takes place in Niamey on 10 March, will be organised by 'Radio France Internationale.'
Robert Ménard, who submitted a visa application to Niger's embassy in Paris on 19 February, was refused visa seven days later.
Niger's Communication Minister, Mohammed Ben Omar, confirmed the refusal to RSF on phone.
“We deplore this discriminatory treatment, which is not in Niger’s interests,” RSF reacts. “We hope the government will not persist in this attitude, which will just perpetuate the status quo and hurt Niger’s image even more.”
Ménard made two trips to Niamey in November and January without any problems. The trips were meant to visit Kaka in prison and to seek the release of two French journalists of the Franco-German TV station 'ARTE', Thomas Dandois and Pierre Creisson.
Dandois and Creisson were arrested after they travelled to northern Niger where they filmed rebels of the Movement for Justice in December. They were freed on 18 January.
Kaka, the correspondent of both RSF and RFI, was arrested on 20 September last year. He was charged with “complicity in a conspiracy against the authority of the state." Kaka faces a possible life sentence.
In December 2005, Gambian embassy refused to issue visa to Leonard Vincent, head of Africa Department, to attend the first anniversary conference of the mysterious killing of Deyda Hydara, the co-founder and editor of 'The Point' newspaper.
In another development, the Managing Editor of a bi-weekly independent newspaper in Niamey, 'L'Eveil Plus' was last week arrested and detained for an alleged defamation. Gourouza Aboubacar's arrest followed a reported complaint lodged against him on 22 February by Moussa Keita, a politician and civil society activist.
He was also slammed a contempt charge by the state prosecutor. Aboubacar is appearing before a special magistrates court in Niamey.
His troubles were fuelled by his paper's publication of two articles on 29 January, 2008, accusing Keita of "orchestrating" a major "conspiracy" to secure charges against former Prime Minister Hama Amadou.
The paper also accused the state of holding the President of CUN, Aboubacar Seydou Ganda on bogus charges. 'L'Eveil Plus' editor said his charges are politically-motivated.
Considering the arrest as a "clear manifestation of intolerance of alternative views", Media Foundation for West Africa urged Nigerien authorities to "immediately release all journalists in custody until criminal guilt is determined in a fair trial."
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