Tuesday, January 22, 2008

French reporters freed from bail in Niger

Sorry, we dropped the ball on this one.

From Reuters

A judge in Niger has ordered the release on bail of two French television journalists who could face the death penalty if convicted of colluding with northern Tuareg rebels, their lawyer said on Friday.

The two reporters for European TV station ARTE, Thomas Dandois and Pierre Creisson, were arrested in mid-December for violating the terms of their media accreditation by filming rebel fighters in the Sahara instead of reporting about bird flu, as they had said they would.

Bail was set at 10 million CFA francs, their lawyer Coulibaly Moussa said.

"We are trying to get together the deposit," he told Reuters. "We are optimistic about their trial because they were just doing their job."

The fate of their driver, Al-Hassane Abdourahman, remains unknown. The reporters hope he will also be freed soon.

Creisson and Dandois arrived in Niger and initially told authorities they would be traveling to the southern part of the country to compile a report on bird flu. However, they traveled north wishing to speak to members of the rebel movement, against the government ban. They were arrested shortly before arriving back in Niamey, the capital.

Presently two Nigerien journalists remain behind bars. Moussa Kaka, director of a private radio station and Radio France International’s Niger correspondent, has been detained since September 26 and also faces the death sentence for “complicity to undermine the security of the state.” The second, Ibrahim Manzo, manager of the bi-weekly newspaper Air Info based in the northern city of Agadez, remains in custody after being arrested October 9.

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