(Apr. 16, 2009) Abibou Garba, the Director-General of the Dounia radio and television broadcasting group in Niger, was arrested on April 1, 2009. Garba was brought before the public prosecutor the next day, charged with “disseminating false news,” and conditionally released. The case resulted from the televising of a debate in which the visit of France's President Nicoloas Sarkozy to Niger's capital city, Niamey, was criticized by an activist, Elhadj Idi Abdou. Abdou, a teacher and member of a non-governmental organization, had himself been arrested on March 31 for the statements he had made on Dounia TV. The two men had been detained at the headquarters of the criminal investigation department between the arrests and their meeting with the public prosecutor.
In calling for charges against Garba to be withdrawn, the international advocacy group Reporters Without Borders stated that the “Dounia group is the victim of repeated harassment by the judicial authorities. … It [the broadcasting group] should not be held responsible for what members of the public say on the air.”
In a separate case, the Dounia group has been sued by for defamation by parliamentarians, due to criticisms by a politician that aired on a Dounia TV program. That case was to be heard at the end of March, but the court date was postponed until April 14, 2009. (Press Release, Reporters Without Borders, In Latest Judicial Harassment of Broadcasting Group, Director-General Charged with “False News” (Apr. 3, 2009), available at http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30761.)