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Fowler/Guay Watch


 

It has now been two weeks since Canadians Robert Fowler, Louis Guay, and a third (possibly fourth) person disappeared in Niger, on the road back to Niamey after a private visit to a Canadian-run gold mine across the Niger river, near Samira. Their UN marked car was found with the engine running, an indicator on, with the doors open and three cell phones sitting on the seat. 

There was a lot of initial confusion over where exactly the car was found and whether they had even made it to the mine, but this has been cleared up, for the most part. The two remaining puzzles are:

1. The initial posting by the FFR, a splinter cell of the Tuareg rebel group MNJ, claiming that they had kidnapped four people, including Fowler and Guay. This claim was quickly retracted (though the initial post was not removed from the FFR blog… odd that). 

2. The exact status of Fowler’s mission and what he was doing. The UN has said he was an official envoy, Nigerien officials said he wasn’t, then a local official in Niamey said he was. 

I had a brief email exchange with an MNJ representative last week, and he swore that the Nigerien government was responsible. He did not elaborate on why he thought this, or what the motivation could be. 

But for over a week now, there has been almost complete silence. The only real news I’ve seen is in today’s French-language AP story, in which the Canadian embassy in Cote D’Ivoire has apparently confirmed that the ambassador, Isabelle Massip, is now in Niger. Meanwhile, the CBC dropped the story completely after a few days, and reporters I’ve spoken with there say they have been ordered not to touch it.


 
Filed under:

Fowler/Guay Watch

  1. is that similar to how it was handled when the cbc reporter was taken?

  2. Good question. My feeling is that there are a few relevant differences. With the case of Ms. Fung, the decision to keep it quiet (by Canadian media) was made before the news of her abduction had made it out onto the wires. I was only able to find a single mention of it, in an obscure Afghan blog, and even then it didn’t mention her by name. So in a sense, “we” — that is, reporters and editors — were never even given a chance to decide on whether we ought to report it or not, the decision was made for us at the highest levels.

    Regarding Mr. Fowler, the first most people heard of it was when it was reported by the AFP — it was on the wires and widely published online before Canadian media got their hands on it. It was also on a few blogs, including the since retracted statement on the FFR blog.

    So I don’t think it was ever in the cards for the media to keep this as quiet as the Fung case. I’m not sure what I think of the CBC’s decision. I would be more comfortable with it if I didn’t have the uneasy sense that there is more to their decision than the Fung precedent.

    • I understand it might be pure speculation, but what else might there be behind the CBC’s decision? What would the CBC have to gain from not reporting on Fowler’s disappearance?

  3. is it only cbc this time whereas it was all outlets last time?

  4. Yes. With Fung, it was kept quiet by every media outlet in Canada, with the cooperation of some in the US and abroad. As far as I know, the CBC is the only organization in Canada to have formally dropped covering the Fowler case.

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