February 20, 2008

Président de la République
S.E.M .Tandja Mamadou
PO Box 369
Niamey, Niger
Fax: + 227 2073 3430

H.E. Mr. Aboubacar Ibrahim Abani
417 East 50th Street
New York, NY 10022
Fax: (212) 753-6931

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,400 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our grave concern regarding the detention of Ibrahim Souley and Soumana Idrissa Maiga.

According to our information, Ibrahim Souley and Soumana Idrissa Maiga, managing editor and founder respectively of the bimonthly publication L’Enquêteur were arrested by the Niamey Criminal Investigation Department on December 4 and 5, 2007. They were detained for several days, after the Minister of Economy and Finance, Ali Mahamane Lamine Zène, filed a libel complaint against L’Enquêteur stemming from articles published on November 19, 2007, alleging that the minister was involved in granting state projects illegally and encouraging mismanagement of public finances.

On December 7, both men appeared before the Office of the State Prosecutor at the Niamey Special Magistrates Court, and were released on bail. Two months later, on February 8, 2008, they were sentenced to one month in jail. They were also ordered to pay a symbolic fine of 40,000 francs (around 60 Euros) each to the minister. Their defense lawyer said they would appeal the decision.

PEN believes that Souley and Maiga have been detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression and opinion, guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Niger is party. We therefore respectfully call for their immediate and unconditional release.

Thank you for your attention.


Hannah Pakula                                                 
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee        

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H.E Mrs. Toure Aminata Djibrilla Maiga
Embassy of the Republic of Niger
2204 R Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Fax: ( 202)483-3169

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