Information hero

Saouti Haïdara

The photos of Saouti Haïdara, the 62-year-old dean of Mali’s press corps, on a hospital bed with his face swollen and his arm in plaster, went round Africa and prompted a one-day protest strike by the Malian media. It happened on 12 July 2012, two months after intelligence officers interrogated him about his sources. A dozen armed men kidnapped him from the headquarters of L'Indépendant, the newspaper he runs in Bamako, beat him with clubs and rifle butts, and threatened to kill him if he filed a complaint. He was found at a roadside later that night by colleagues, who took him to hospital. The violence inflicted on this respected journalist testified to the decline in Mali, formerly seen as a regional model of respect for freedom of information.