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Burkina Faso Arrests Man After Death Threat to Top Journalist

FILE - Journalist Newton Ahmed Barry is seen at a press conference in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, July 25, 2016.

Cybercrime police have arrested a man suspected of making death threats on social media against one of Burkina Faso's leading journalists, authorities said.

Last month, a 35-year-old trader issued "defamatory threats, inciting violence against the person of Mr. Newton Ahmed Barry, as well as the destruction of his private goods," the cybercrime brigade said in a statement Monday.

"Go and burn his house, raze his home completely, gather up the sand that's left and leave the land empty," a voice says in the recording first aired on WhatsApp.

The journalist is called a "terrorist" "who does not deserve to live."

The police statement said the suspect had admitted to making the recording.

It was unclear why the death threats were made against Barry, a star state television reporter in the 1980s and former editor-in-chief of an investigative publication.

However, he risked the wrath of pro-Russian forces last May when he criticized on a private television channel the government's deal to bring in Russian mercenaries to help tackle the jihadist insurgency.

Barry quit as a television presenter after the 1998 murder of investigative journalist Norbert Zongo and three of his colleagues, found riddled with bullets in a burned-out car.

Barry had heavily criticized the regime of President Blaise Compaore.

He was appointed to head Burkina's Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) after the president's downfall in 2014 but resigned last year. He turned his critical eye back on the country and government, enjoying a strong following on social media.