Senegal media boss detained

Sidy Lamine Niass taken into custody after accusing President Macky Sall of building up wealth through corruption.

    Sidy Lamine Niass, centre, detained overnight after accusing President Sall of corruption.  [EPA]
    Sidy Lamine Niass, centre, detained overnight after accusing President Sall of corruption. [EPA]

    The owner of one of Senegal's largest media groups was detained overnight after accusing President Macky Sall of building up wealth through corruption, the media company he owns said.

    Sidy Lamine Niass, founder and CEO of Walfadjri, was taken into custody on Monday after being summoned to a police station in Dakar, and kept until he was bailed on Tuesday, his television station announced, without saying whether charges had been brought against him.

    "I thank the religious leaders, the press and all Senegalese," he said as he left a court in Dakar, without elaborating.

    Niass said during an interview broadcast on Saturday by his television station that he had evidence of "illicit enrichment" by Sall, who was elected in March last year.

    Local media reported that he was being investigated for "disturbing public order and insulting the head of state" as a result of the programme.

    After defeating Abdoulaye Wade, who had been in power for 12 years, Sall declared personal wealth which included properties in Senegal and the United States and a fleet of vehicles and other assets shared with his wife, but didn't put a price tag on the portfolio.

    Niass, whose company runs a newspaper and several radio stations as well as the television channel, was first summoned by Dakar police on Saturday but said the order was cancelled.

    "I am going to respond to this second summons, which is not legal but political. The government is trying to intimidate us," he told reporters on Monday as he headed to the police station.

    It was not immediately clear if a date had been set for a further court appearance.

    Niass has been outspoken in his criticism of the various regimes that have run Senegal since independence in 1960 and held a rally calling for Wade to step down on the eve of last year's election.

    Senegal has long been feted as a rare haven of democracy in Africa, though rights groups such as Amnesty International have in the past rapped authorities for breaches of press freedom.

    SOURCE: AFP


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