Newspaper editor detained in Chad after arms plane story

Juda Allahondoum, editor of Le Visionnaire, was detained by police in the capital N'Djamena
Juda Allahondoum, editor of Le Visionnaire, was detained by police in the capital N'Djamena

A Newspaper editor in Chad has been detained by police after he published a story about an aircraft suspected of having flown arms to Syria.

Juda Allahondoum, editor of Le Visionnaire, was detained on Tuesday by police in the capital N’Djamena and is still waiting to be questioned.

The authorities have not given a reason for his arrest but colleagues point to an article about an Airbus 340 the newspaper claims was repainted in the style of Syrian Arab Airlines.

The scandal first emerged last month in the US specialist aviation media which said the aircraft had been spotted in Damascus and the US authorities suspect it could be being used to ferry arms to Syria.

In the wake of the revelations, aviation minister Haawa Acyl sacked Chad’s head and deputy head of civil aviation before being dismissed herself by President Idriss Deby on 27 September.

The story spread more widely last month after people tried to understand why the Trump administration had included Chad in the controversial US travel ban, alongside Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Venezuela.

Chad is generally viewed as a US counter-terrorism ally for having deployed troops against Boko Haram and al-Qaeda.

Since Chad was included in the ban list on 24 September, Mr Deby made what some people see as a retaliatory gesture by calling home hundreds of troops who had been sent to fight Boko Haram in Niger.

He needn’t have bothered. The travel ban was due to come into effect yesterday but was blocked by two US federal judges.

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