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Comoros journalist detained on libel charges

MORONI (AFP) – Authorities in Comoros have briefly detained a journalist on libel charges after his newspaper published a picture of a presidential advisor without permission, a colleague said.

Mmadi Moindjie, a reporter with the “albalad” daily, appeared before police investigators for “defaming Issa Soule,” leader of the Movement of Citizens for Justice and Progress (MCJP), which is part of the ruling coalition, a fellow journalist told AFP late on Saturday.

Soule is also special advisor to President Ikililou Dhoinine.

“Mmadi Moindjie is accused of having illustrated an article of the MCJP with a photo of the advisor without his consent,” albalad journalist Abdillahi Sandi Kemba said.

The published article was largely based on extracts from an official party press release.

“It is astonishing that they didn’t target the newspaper, but Moindjie himself. The police phoned him and said he should report to the police station, where they kept him 24 hours without a warrant.”

Moindjie was then released and police are to decide on April 26 whether to bring formal court charges, he said.

Comoros last year jumped 25 places to 45th on the Media Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders group.

This week the country’s interior minister closed down a supplement of state daily Al Watan and suspended the paper’s editor for publishing an expose on state corruption.

Libel laws in the conservative Indian Ocean archipelago, a former French colony independent since 1975, are vague and few libel cases end up in court, with activists saying arrests are usually used as a way to pressure journalists


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