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Malagasy Journo Who Criticised Lockdown Released

A prominent Madagascar journalist detained a month ago after criticizing President Andry Rajoelina’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic was released on Monday. Arphine Rahelisoa, who heads the pro-opposition newspaper Valisoa, was charged on April 4 with “inciting hatred” after running a blog that notably said “COVID-19, lockdown, Andry Rajoelina, killer.” The charges against Rahelisoa, the only journalist detained in Madagascar, have not been dropped. She could face a prison term of between one and five years. Amnesty International had taken up Rahelisoa’s case, urging the authorities to release her and guarantee freedom of expression. UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organization, has designated May 3 as World Press Freedom Day. The communications ministry said Sunday it was an “abuse of… freedom” to fail to take into account the exceptional situation facing Madagascar and this “should in no way be put forward as freedom of the press.”