Kenyan journalist, team released by Niger authorities

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A British-Kenyan Al Jazeera journalist Yvonne Ndege and three of her colleagues have been released from a Niger jail after being held by authorities since Saturday, the Middle East news network has reported.

Ms Ndege, a correspondent based in Abuja, Nigeria, was detained alongside cameraman Romuald Luyindula, producer Mohammed Abubakar and driver Rabiu Abdullahi, Al Jazeera reported Monday.

They were held in Zinder region.

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An Al Jazeera press release Tuesday said the four-person team was released late on Monday evening without charge, to make way back to the border into Nigeria.
The team was initially detained at around 9MT on Saturday, questioned, and asked to hand over the material from a story they were filming about refugees.

Al Jazeera thanked everyone who was involved in trying to secure the release and safe return of their staff.

The news network had demanded the immediate release of its team, especially after Niger Attorney-General said there was no evidence to detain them, and the fact that their footage was earlier approved for release by the police headquarters.

According to Al Jazeera, the team’s equipment was confiscated, cleared for release, and then confiscated a second time with no explanation.

The four, it went on, were then interrogated for about 10 hours before being officially arrested and charged with espionage, with no evidence being presented to support the charges.

According to the network, the authorities confiscated the Al Jazeera team’s passports, filming equipment and personal belongings before putting them in a shared cell without food or water.

Ms Ndege previously worked with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) from 1997–2007.

She studied in London and was in 2009 the co-recipient of the silver prize of the United Nations Foundations Prize awarded by the United Nations Correspondents Association, for her work in the Democratic Republic of Congo.-africareview.com

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