Senegalese journalist Pape Alé Niang released conditionally
The Senegalese judicial authorities finally freed Dakar Matin website editor Pape Alé Niang conditionally yesterday (10 January) following a major campaign for his release. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcomes the decision and calls on them to now drop all charges against him.
By releasing Pape Alé Niang, the Senegalese authorities are beginning to repair a major self-inflicted injury. This journalist’s detention was a huge stain on the traditionally favourable environment for the media in Senegal. Normality must now be restored. And going back to normal means dropping all the charges against him.
Niang’s release yesterday in response to a request by his lawyers came after an intense campaign by media associations and an appeal by 78 African journalists and press freedom groups that was organised by RSF. This appeal called on the Senegalese authorities to free Niang and respect the country’s constitution, which enshrines freedom of the press.
When freeing Niang, the authorities placed him under judicial control, banning him from talking about the case and from leaving the country. He is required to surrender his passport and to present himself once a month at the office of the investigating judge in charge of the case.
Niang was originally arrested on 6 November on charges of revealing information “likely to harm national defence,” “receiving confidential administrative and military documents” and disseminating “false news likely to discredit state institutions.
He was released on 14 December but was rearrested six days later for allegedly violating a prohibition on communicating in any form about the case against him. He then went on hunger strike in protest against his detention, which he regarded as arbitrary, but had to be hospitalised when, as a result of the hunger strike, his condition became “very critical,” his supporters said.
In one of the highlights of the campaign for Niang’s release, RSF’s secretary-general visited him on 1 December in Sébikotane prison, near the capital, Dakar.