NIGER - Niger refuses visa to Reporters Without Borders secretary-general

    MONTREAL, March 3 /CNW Telbec/ - The government of Niger has refused to
provide Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard with a visa
for a trip he was to have made to Niamey to participate from there in a
special day of solidarity with the organisation's imprisoned correspondent,
Moussa Kaka, which Radio France Internationale is organising on 10 March.
    After submitting a visa application to Niger's embassy in Paris on 19
February, Ménard was notified seven days later that his request had been
denied. Communication minister and government spokesman Mohammed Ben Omar
subsequently confirmed the refusal to him by telephone.
    "We deplore this discriminatory treatment, which is not in Niger's
interests," Reporters Without Borders said. "We hope the government will not
persist in this attitude, which will just perpetuate the status quo and hurt
Niger's image even more."
    Ménard made two recent trips to Niamey without any problem, in November
and January, to visit Kaka in Niamey prison and to seek the release of two
French journalists employed by the Franco-German TV station ARTE, Thomas
Dandois and Pierre Creisson. Arrested in December after visiting northern
Niger, where the Tuareg rebels of the Niger People's Movement for Justice
(MNJ) are active, Dandois and Creisson were freed on 18 January.
    The Niamey correspondent of both Reporters Without Borders and RFI, Kaka
was arrested on 20 September and charged with "complicity in a conspiracy
against the authority of the state" because his phone calls with an MNJ leader
allegedly demonstrated that he "conniving" with the rebels. He is facing a
possible life sentence.

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)

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