A journalist and rights activist known for his outspoken criticism of the humanitarian crisis in south- eastern Niger has been arrested for “collaborating” with Boko Haram Islamists, the interior minister has said.
“This man has been collaborating with Boko Haram for some time, and he is actively spreading propaganda and false news in liaison with Boko Haram,” Interior Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou told AFP.
“All his propaganda aims to show… that Niger’s defence and security forces are the criminals… (and) not Boko Haram.”
Niger cannot “tolerate such an active collaboration with terrorists”, or such “systematic spreading of false news”, he added.
Tchangari was arrested on Monday and charged with “criminal links to the terrorist group Boko Haram”, he said.
Tchangari’s organisation Alternative Espace Citoyen has been critical of the humanitarian crisis in southeastern Niger, where the army is fighting Boko Haram.
In early May, his group published a report that criticised the Niger authorities after the evacuation of some 25,000 Lake Chad residents over fears of new Islamist attacks, following a deadly assault in late April.
At the time, Tchangari said thousands of men, women, children and elderly Lake Chad residents “walked for more than 50 kilometres (30 miles)” until they reached safety.
“No preparations were in place to welcome… or support them,” he added.