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NIGER: State of alert threatens independent media - RSFABIDJAN, 7 August 2002 (IRIN) - A state of alert imposed in Niger on Monday could threaten freedom of expression, according to Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), which has urged President Mamadou Tandja to repeal the decree through which he instituted the measure.
"We ask you not to use the state of alert as a pretext for muzzling the independent news media, which would represent a serious regression in the democratic process," RSF Secretary-General Robert Menard said in a letter to Tandja. "We remind you that press freedom is guaranteed under Niger's constitution."
The decree was issued on Monday following a mutiny by soldiers in garrisons in Diffa Region, some 1,500 km east of the capital, Niamey. Among other things, it bans the dissemination by any news media of reports or allegations liable to jeopardise national defence operations.
Any violation of these measures would result in the suspension or closure of the news media and the printing press that produced it, together with the confiscation of equipment. Any person contributing to the dissemination or publication of such reports is also liable to be punished, RSF said.
The international media watchdog said "journalists have allegedly received threats from the police and the Minister of Communication".