Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Senegal releases four journalists

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade ordered four journalists released from prison Friday while he was visiting France.

The president hoped the move would diffuse the increasing tension between the press and the Senegalese government, Reuters reported.

Wade’s decision was met with further calls of decriminalization of media infractions, which have become law in other West African states. Reuters says that Wade promised to make the reforms three years ago, but so far his government has not taken action.

All four of the journalists were imprisoned within the past month on a variety of charges relating to stories they wrote or published about the political situation in Senegal and the Wade government.

Authorities arrested Pape Amadou Gaye, publisher of the private daily Le Courrier du Jour, on Nov. 1 after publishing an article blaming the government for price increases in many staple goods. He also suggested the army could force a change in government policy.

In early October authorities arrested Moussa Gueye, editor of the daily L'Exclusif, and newspaper employee, Pape Moussa Doukar, after their paper ran an article about Wade's "nighttime escapades.”

A fourth publisher, El Malick Seck of rewmi.com, was detained on Wednesday by security services and charged for reprinting a story on his website about Wade’s acquisition of a Hoover limousine.

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