11 October 2007

Senegal: Police Abduct, Beat Newspaper Editor, Seek Journalist Over Article About President

press release

RSF condemns the kidnapping of Moussa Gueye, the editor of the privately-owned daily "L'Exclusif", who was arrested, beaten and taken off to an unknown location by plain-clothes police on 8 October 2007 after being lured into a trap. His abduction came just hours after he published a story headlined "President's nighttime escapade."

"Such archaic methods do no honour to Senegal," the organisation said. "The government often insists that it is committed to press freedom but these incidents keep recurring. Even if Senegal's press legislation is repressive, this case would have been handled fairly by means of ordinary judicial procedures. Instead, a journalist was literally kidnapped, beaten and shut away, and now the government has a political prisoner being held for lese-majesté."

Shortly before 9:00 p.m. (local time) on 8 October, Gueye received a call from an unidentified person claiming to be interested in taking out an ad in the next day's issue of "L'Exclusif". Gueye, who was not at the paper when he got the call, told the person to meet at "L'Exclusif", located 30 km southeast of Dakar in Rufisque.

On his way there, Gueye was intercepted by five members of the Criminal Investigation Department (DIC), who said they were looking for Justin Ndoye, the journalist who wrote the article about the president.

When Gueye refused to provide any information about his staff, he was slapped, handcuffed and bundled into the policemen's car and told to lead them to where they could find the journalist. After he continued to refuse to comply, they drove to "L'Exclusif", punctured the tires of all the cars outside, and took the newspaper's computers. A member of the staff who is now in hiding said he thought Gueye could have been taken to DIC headquarters.

The newspaper's staff thinks Gueye's arrest was prompted by Ndoye's story about the president's "nocturnal sorties" with his chief of staff, which quoted "sources close to the presidential palace."

In public comments the next day, before Gueye's arrest was reported, President Abdoulaye Wade denied that he wanted to control the press and urged journalists to distinguish between "the president, Citizen Wade and Senegal."

"You know full well that I have the means to control the press" he added. "But I will not do it and I don't want to do it (. . . ). I don't want a press on the payroll. I have enough money for that. I could do it but I am not going to do it."

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