News

July 30, 2021

RSF hails former Malian intelligence chief’s arrest over reporter’s disappearance

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcomes the arrest of the former head of Mali’s intelligence agency, which is alleged to have held a journalist incommunicado for several months after he disappeared in January 2016, as RSF revealed earlier this month.

Gen. Moussa Diawara, who headed Mali’s General Directorate for State Security (DGSE) for seven years while Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was president, has been arrested in Bamako, a judicial source confirmed to RSF yesterday. 


He is accused of complicity in the abduction, illegal detention and torture of Birama Touré, a long-time reporter for the investigative newspaper Le Sphinx, who has not been seen by his family and colleagues since his disappearance on 29 January 2016. 


After investigating the case, RSF reported on 7 July that Touré was secretly arrested and held in a clandestine state security prison for several months. One of his fellow-detainees told RSF that he was finally shot dead in this prison at the end of 2016. 


RSF also learned that, at the time of his disappearance, Touré had been investigating a romantic relationship involving the then president’s son, Karim Keïta, who now lives in Côte d’Ivoire. At the start of this month, a Bamako investigating judge issued an international warrant for Karim Keïta so that he could be brought back to Bamako for questioning – an initiative supported by RSF. 


After years of silence and indifference from the Malian authorities about this journalist’s disappearance, the arrest of the former boss of Mali’s intelligence agency constitutes a turnaround,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. 


We welcome the recent progress in the investigation, given the gravity of the crime and the fact that RSF and the editor of Birama Touré’s newspaper participated in the revelations. It is essential that all suspects, including those who had a direct role in this journalist’s abduction and perhaps murder are arrested, questioned and brought to justice.” 


“It is a form of culmination in a struggle waged for years alongside RSF,” said Sphinx editor Adama Dramé, who was Touré’s boss for many years. “All those who escaped justice in this case must finally be called to account.” 


Mali is ranked 99th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.