Sunday 19 November 2017

Senegal singer released after 'fake news' arrest

Senegal singer released after 'fake news' arrest
(AFP 08/15/17)

A Senegalese singer was granted provisional release Monday after 10 days of detention for "offending the head of state and spreading fake news", her lawyer said.

Amy Colle Dieng, a well-known singer of Senegal's popular mbalakh form of dance music, had been arrested on August 3 and charged after audio of her lashing out at President Macky Sall went viral.

The 39-year-old is heard calling Sall a "sai sai", or "scoundrel" in the local Wolof language, who "operates in the shadows" to achieve his aims.

She adds that the president, elected in 2012, had done "nothing" for the country and "stole" a victory in July's legislative elections.

And she is heard declaring her support for ex-president Abdoulaye Wade, who stood as an opposition candidate in the elections, and criticising administrative errors that marred the vote.

The recording was shared via the WhatsApp messaging service and then uploaded to YouTube. Dieng insisted after her arrest that she had never intended her comments to be made public.

The case caused a sensation in Senegal, a country often held up as a model of democracy in Africa.

Artists' groups and civil society leaders had pushed for Dieng's release.

"My client has been granted provisional release at my request. It's the right decision," said her lawyer Boubacar Barro.

"The investigation continues, but I do not think there are sufficient charges" against her, he added.

A judicial source confirmed to AFP that Dieng had "been granted provisional freedom on Monday".

The case comes after four people were charged in June with "offending public morals" for distributing a fake image of Sall naked, also via WhatsApp.

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