Page last updated at 18:31 GMT, Friday, 12 September 2008 19:31 UK

Senegalese newspaper chief jailed

President Abdoulaye Wade (File photo)
Relations between Abdoulaye Wade's government and the media are tense

A newspaper publisher has been jailed for three years in Senegal for printing an article deemed offensive to President Abdoulaye Wade.

El Malick Seck's newspaper, the 24 Heures Chrono, was also banned from publication for three months.

Mr Seck was arrested in August after he wrote an article alleging Mr Wade and his son were involved in laundering money stolen from an Ivory Coast bank.

Senegalese authorities have said that the article was untrue.

Offices ransacked

The court in the capital, Dakar, found Mr Seck guilty of offending the head of state, publishing false news, and acts that could lead to public disturbances.

But Sambou Biagui, editor of 24 Heures Chrono, told Reuters news agency that Mr Seck had been sentenced "simply because our paper put in the open the wrongdoings of those who are running this country".

The case has come at a time of increasingly tense relations between the government and the media.

Last month, the offices of 24 Heures Chrono and another paper, L'As, were ransacked.

Some newspapers accused Farba Senghor, propoganda chief for the ruling Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), of complicity in the raids.

He hit back, accusing four papers of a "relentless, orchestrated" campaign against him.

In late August he was sacked from his post as transport minister - though the government insisted this was to allow him to defend himself against the accusations, rather than an admission of his guilt.

On Thursday, 12 people were sentenced to prison terms of five to six years over the raids, including two of Mr Senghor's bodyguards.

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