Al Jazeera crew finally released

June 18, 2013 9:37 am
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Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege, camera operator Romuald Luyindula, producer Mohammed Abubakar and driver Rabiu Abdullahi were held in Zinder, southern Niger/AL JAZEERA
Al Jazeera’s Yvonne Ndege, camera operator Romuald Luyindula, producer Mohammed Abubakar and driver Rabiu Abdullahi were held in Zinder, southern Niger/AL JAZEERA
ZINDER, Niger, June 18- A team of journalists from Al Jazeera’s Television network who had been held captive in a Niger jail for the past three days have finally been released.

The crew led by correspondent Yvonne Ndege, were being held in Zinder after being charged with espionage before being released on Monday evening.

According to the Al Jazeera news network Ndege, her cameraman Romuald Luyindula, the producer Mohammed Abubakar and the driver Rabiu Abdullahi were arrested on Saturday morning over a story they were working on about refugees.

“The team was initially detained at around 9:00 GMT on Saturday, questioned, and asked to hand over the material from a story they were filming about refugees,” posted Al Jazeera on its website.

“The four-person team was released late on Monday evening without charge to make way back to the border into Nigeria.”

The crew’s equipment and personal belongings including their passports were confiscated before they were questioned and jailed in a shared cell without food or water over the story.

Efforts by Al Jazeera to have them freed earlier remained futile despite the fact that there was no evidence indicating that Ndege and her colleagues were spies.

“The four were then interrogated for about 10 hours before being officially arrested and charged with espionage, with no evidence being presented to support the charges,” reported Al Jazeera.

Niger authorities including the Attorney General are also said to have watched the footage on Sunday before clearing it and declaring that the four were free to go.

In that time, their equipment was confiscated, cleared for release, and then confiscated a second time with no explanation.

“Within an hour of this order being given, the team was detained again without charge and the filming equipment was once again confiscated,” said the news agency.

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