Senegalese reporter released provisionally two weeks after RSF visited him in jail
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) hails Senegalese journalist Pape Alé Niang’s provisional release two weeks after RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire visited him in prison, and calls on the Senegalese authorities to drop all the charges against Niang, who spent more than a month in jail.
Pape Alé Niang’s release yesterday (14 December), was good news not only for him but also for press freedom in his country. It came two weeks after Deloire visited him on 1 December in Sébikotane prison, 50 km east of the capital Dakar, and then issued an appeal for his release outside the jail.
Niang’s lawyers submitted a request for his provisional release to the judge who examined the various charges against Niang when he was brought before a court on 9 December. The request was accepted yesterday by a judge, who placed him under judicial control, ordered the withdrawal of his passport, banned him from leaving the country and banned him from talking about the case.
We are pleased with this court decision, which will enable Pape Alé Niang to be reunited with his family and his friends and, above all, to resume his work as a journalist. His determination was evident when we visited him in prison. We are happy that the appeal we issued jointly with our Senegalese fellow journalists has been heard. We now call on the Senegalese authorities to drop all charges against him.
An investigative reporter who runs the Dakar Matin news site, Niang was arrested on 6 November and was transferred to Sébikotane prison three days later 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.”
After the hearing on December 9, one of his lawyers, Moussa Sarr, told the media that his client had responded “with precision” to all the questions put to him by the judge.
RSF had joined Senegal’s Coordination of Press Associations (CAP) in calling for Niang’s release. After visiting Niang in prison on 1 December, Deloire reminded Senegalese President Macky Sall of his promise not to jail any journalist while he was president.
The day after RSF’s visit, Niang began a hunger strike in protest against his imprisonment. When his health deteriorated, he was rushed to a private clinic in Dakar on the night of 9 December and spent four days there before being returned to prison on 13 December.
Several demonstrations have been held in support of Niang and there has been an outcry about his imprisonment in Senegal, where no journalist had been jailed since 2004.
Senegal is ranked 73rd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 World Press Freedom Index.