A journalist from a private Senegalese television station was charged with “contempt of court” and “spreading false news” and jailed Tuesday night, AFP learned Wednesday from his lawyer.
Pape Ndiaye, a columnist for Wal Fadjri, had recently questioned the independence of the judiciary in the January 18 referral to a criminal chamber of the opponent Ousmane Sonko, accused of rape by an employee of a beauty salon.
The journalist had claimed that the majority of the judges of the public prosecutor’s office had decided in favor of dismissing Mr. Sonko’s case, against the advice, according to him, of the public prosecutor who told them to fulfill the government’s wish for a trial of the opponent.
“The information (on the indictment and imprisonment of Pape Ndiaye) is accurate,” Moussa Sarr, his lawyer, told AFP on Wednesday, confirming information provided by the Coordination of Press Associations (CAP), a trade union confederation.
The charges against the journalist are “provocation of a gathering, contempt of court, intimidation, and reprisals against a member of the judiciary, discrediting a judicial act, dissemination of false news, endangering the lives of others,” according to Mr. Sarr.
The Sonko case has been a source of tension for at least two years in Senegal. The opponent was charged with rape and death threats and placed under judicial supervision in March 2021, on the complaint of the employee of the beauty salon where he was getting a massage.
He denounced a plot by the government to torpedo his candidacy for the 2024 presidential elections.
Pape Ndiaye is the second journalist to be imprisoned in recent months in Senegal after Pape Alé Niang.
This journalist from the news website Dakar matin, a critic of the government, was arrested twice in November and December for, among other things, “disclosing information likely to harm the national defense” and “spreading false news”, also around the Sonko case. He has since been placed under judicial supervision.
Senegal is ranked 73rd (out of 180) in the 2022 edition of the world press freedom index compiled by the journalists’ rights organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF).