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Editor detained overnight, charged over false publication

(MFWA/IFEX) - Modibo Oumarou Aliou, managing editor of "Le Canard Déchaîné," a privately-owned Niamey-based newspaper, was on July 21, 2011 arrested and detained overnight at the civilian prison in Niamey.

Aliou has been charged with "dissemination of false information" for repeatedly publishing "false theft" allegations against Alhaji Ousman, former press secretary of General Djibou Salou, chairman of the erstwhile transitional military government of Niger.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that the arrest and subsequent detention of Aliou followed a complaint filed by Alhaji Ousman to the police.

The correspondent said "Le Canard Déchaîné", in four issues, wrongfully accused the former Press Secretary of stealing a camera worth 25 million CFA francs (about US$53,683) belonging to the communication unit of the presidency.

Investigations later determined that it was the communications advisor to General Salou who took the camera. He returned it after a confrontation at the criminal investigations department.

Aliou has since been released from prison awaiting trial.

MFWA recognises the shortcomings of the media in the course of discharging their legitimate duties. We are saddened by the publication of false information by the newspaper, without having undertaken a proper investigation. However, we also consider the sanction imposed on Aliou as being unduly harsh. We therefore appeal to the authorities to drop the charge against the managing editor.

MFWA also appeals for the use of civil litigation for such cases of misconduct by the media. We urge "Le Canard Déchaîné" to officially apologise to Alhaji Ousman for the false accusations levelled against him in the publication.

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