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The U.S. ambassador in war-torn Mali is worried about the future of press freedom after intelligence authorities in the West African nation arrested a newspaper editor earlier this month.

Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard expressed “great concern” over the detention of Boukary Daou, editor of The Republican newspaper, after he published a letter from an army officer denouncing Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, leader of a military coup last year, for receiving an annual salary of $96,000 — a vast sum in the impoverished nation of 15.5 million where many live on less than $400 a year.

“There’s a vital role for the media, and we urge the utmost protection of free expression and rights under the law,” the ambassador told reporters in the capital, Bamako.

Intelligence agents arrested Mr. Daou on March 6 and accused him of inciting rebellion.

Capt. Sanogo led a coup that toppled the Malian government after an uprising in northern Mali by Tuareg rebels. France has intervened to restore stability in its former colony.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.