Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Press Release

Niger Journalist Samira Sabou Jailed, Charged with Cybercrime Over Facebook Post

WASHINGTON -

Authorities in Niger should immediately release journalist Samira Ibrahim Sabou and drop all charges against her, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Authorities arrested Sabou, editor with the privately owned Niger Search news website and manager of the Mides-Niger news website, on June 10 after she responded to a court summons, according to her lawyer, Abdou Léko Aboubacar, and Sahirou Youssoufou, secretary general of the Niger Press House, a local media association, both of whom spoke to CPJ over messaging app.

The summons was issued in response to a defamation complaint filed by Sani Mahamadou Issoufou, the son and chief of staff of Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, according to Léko and Youssoufou.

The complaint stemmed from a May 26 post on Sabou’s official Facebook account that alleged a connection between “the son of the boss of the country” and an audit of the military, as discussed in a March 24 report by the Jeune Afrique news site. The post shared a screenshot of the Jeune Afrique article.

Sabou frequently posts political commentary and links to her reporting on her Facebook page, where she has more than 60,000 followers.

Authorities charged Sabou with “defamation by a means of electronic communication” under Article 29 of Niger’s cybercrime law for her post, and for a comment made on the post by another Facebook user, Léko told CPJ.

Sabou was placed in pre-trial detention in the civil prison in Niamey; if convicted, she could face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to five million West African francs ($8,650), according to Léko and the cybercrime law, which CPJ reviewed.

“Authorities in Niger should immediately release Samira Ibrahim Sabou and halt their use of the country’s cybercrime law to arrest and detain journalists,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator. “Niger’s cybercrime law is just another disappointing example of the way criminal defamation persists across the continent, in defiance of international standards and African governments’ own commitments to freedom of expression.”

CPJ called Sani Issoufou Mahamadou for comment at a phone number provided by someone following the case, but the call did not go through. CPJ could not contact him through Twitter because he did not have direct messaging enabled.

Sabou is the president of the local Association of Bloggers for Active Citizenship, previously worked with the government owned Le Sahel and privately owned l’Enquêteur newspapers, and is widely known for her writing on social media, according to Youssoufou.

Niger’s Press House issued a statement condemning Sabou’s arrest, and restating Niger’s prohibitions on preventive arrests for press violations. The statement also noted that Niger had signed the Table Mountain Declaration, a regional pact advocating for the abolition of criminal defamation laws.

CPJ could not immediately find contact information for the judge overseeing Sabou’s case.

In March, journalist Kaka Touda Mamane Goni was also arrested in Niamey and prosecuted under Niger’s cybercrime law for posts on social media, as CPJ documented at the time.

###

The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. We defend the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal.

US Urged to End Drone Strikes After Pentagon Says Killing 10 Afghan Civilians Was 'Horrible Mistake'

"That was not a 'mistake,'" said journalist Anand Giridharadas. "War crimes are not oopsies."

Brett Wilkins ·


40+ NYC Activists Arrested for Protests Against Banks Fueling Climate Emergency

"We're sending a message loud and clear that the little action that politicians and greenwashing CEOs have taken so far does not begin to deal with the magnitude of this crisis."

Jessica Corbett ·


FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Booster Shots for People 65+ and Especially Vulnerable

The scientific advisory committee voted down a recommendation for other adults.

Common Dreams staff ·


'What Betrayal Looks Like': UN Report Says World on Track for 2.7°C of Warming by 2100

"Whatever our so-called 'leaders' are doing," said Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, "they are doing it wrong."

Jake Johnson ·


Critics Warn Biden That 30% Methane Reduction by 2030 Not Good Enough

Following the new U.S.-E.U. pledge, climate campaigners called for an urgent end to fossil fuel extraction and major reforms of agricultural practices.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo