Nigerian military releases detained Al-Jazeera journalists

World Today

Nigerien General Seyni Garba (C-L) speaks next to Chadian General Brahim Seid (C-R) during a press conference at the airport of Diffa, southeastern Niger, on April 3, 2015, near the Nigerian town of Malam Fatori which was retaken from Boko Haram by troops from Chad and Niger. Two Al-Jazeera journalists detained when Nigerian troops were battling Boko Haram in March were freed on Sunday. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZES

Doha — Two Al-Jazeera television journalists who had been detained by the Nigerian military since March 24 have been freed, the Qatar-based broadcaster said in a statement on Sunday.

It said Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa had been allowed to leave the Maiduguri hotel where they were detained, and return to the network’s Abuja office.

“We’re pleased for Ahmed and Ali that their ordeal is over,” Salah Negm, director of news for Al-Jazeera English said.

“They’re looking forward to spending some time with their families and loved ones. I know that both of them want to thank everyone that helped secure their release, including NGOs, politicians and fellow journalists,” Negm added.

There were no further details on the conditions of their release.

The pair, both Nigerians, were detained in the northeast where troops were battling Boko Haram militants.

Nigerian defence spokesman Chris Olukolade had said they were “found to have been loitering around areas where military operations are ongoing in the northeast and have been restrained in Maiduguri”.

But Al-Jazeera said they were taken from their hotel room after having “finished filming a story on the military with their cooperation”, and that their camera equipment was confiscated.

Nigeria’s military has had tense relations with the media, particularly overseas organizations, frequently accusing them of misrepresenting the conflict.

The journalists also had their phones confiscated and had not been allowed to contact the outside world.

Reporter Idris joined Al-Jazeera in 2010 and has 30 years’ experience in broadcasting. Cameraman Mustafa has been with the network since 2011.

Story by AFP.