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Media Strike in Senegal to Protest Jailing of Newspaper Editor - 2004-07-12

Most independent newspapers and radio stations in Senegal are on strike to protest the arrest of a newspaper editor.

The director of the newspaper, Le Quotidien, Madiambal Diagne, is facing jail for printing an article accusing the government of corruption and interference with the courts.

In response to his arrest, independently owned newspapers printed a joint editorial Saturday denouncing Mr. Diagne's detention as an attempt to muzzle the press. Journalist Abdoulaye Cisse echoes the views shared by many of his colleagues in saying the charges against Mr. Diagne are politically motivated.

"President [Abdoulaye] Wade and his minister of justice and the attorney general want to intimidate Senegalese journalists, because we are sure that the article, the 5th of July article, is not so false as reported by the attorney general," he said. "So, every journalist has to support Mr. Diagne, and all independent newspapers and all private radio stations have stopped work today."

Mr. Diagne, who was arrested Friday, is being held in a jail in the Senegalese capital, Dakar. He was charged with the dissemination of false information and confidential documents.

The government denied the journalists' claims that the arrest was an attempt to intimidate the media.

The case is being heard Monday, but Mr. Diagne is not expected to appear before the court.

Mr. Cisse says, if a judge finds in favor of the government, the media strike will continue.

"We have decided already to make a blackout on any official activity of the government, on any activity of the party of President Abdoulaye Wade, until Mr. Diagne has been unlatched," he said.

Stable, and run by an elected government, Senegal has replaced Ivory Coast as the center for international media in West Africa.