Seven Gambian Press Union (GPU)
executives and newspaper journalists arrested earlier this week were charged
late Thursday. The charges included conspiracy to publish with seditious
The journalists, who pleaded not guilty, were denied bail and reportedly
sent to prison.
Their arrests came after the GPU issued a statement criticizing
President Yahya Jammeh for making insensitive comments about the unresolved
2004 assassination of journalist Deyda Hydara.
All attempts to get a reaction from the
Gambian government failed as VOA was told that President Jammeh had also
assumed the post of minister of information.
Ndey Tapha Sosseh, president of
the Gambia Press Union, said from the Malian capital, Bamako that Gambian authorities also arrested Halifa Sallah, a board
member of the Foroyaa newspaper.
I can confirm is that Thursday afternoon, 4 p.m. GMT, seven Gambian journalists
were taken to the state prison, Mile Two Central Prison after being charged
with seditious publications," she said.
said the Gambian National Intelligence Agency lured Sallah to their offices to
get him arrested.
have however been two other arrests. An assistant editor of the Point newspaper
was arrested and Halifa Sallah was also arrested. Halifa Sallah is the board
member of the Foroyaa newspaper," Sosseh said.
said one of those granted a US$7,000 bail was Sarata Jabbi-Dibba, a nursing
mother and also deputy editor of the Point newspaper.
But Sosseh said there was no way Jabbi-Dibba
could meet the conditions of her bail.
is high, but as media practitioners we're used to having bail conditions that
high. Sometimes they go to more than 10,000 US dollars for a Gambian
journalist. And we are talking about people who earn less than $200.00 a
month," Sosseh said.
journalists' arrests came after the GPU issued a statement last week criticizing
President Yahya Jammeh for making what the GPU called insensitive comments about the
unresolved 2004 assassination of journalist Deyda Hydara.
said the Gambian government went too far by arresting so many journalists.
course they have gone too far. Why would they even arrest one person for
responding to that? As a head of state, what he (Jammeh) should be concerned
about is the investigation into the death of Deyda Hydara and how that has
tarnished the image of the Gambia," Sosseh said.
said the Gambia Press Union is calling on the Gambian government to either
launch a seriously investigate into the death of Hydara or turn over to
made several attempts over a two-day period to get the Gambian government to
respond to the press union claims but to no avail.
said President Jammeh has been serving as minister of information since almost
the beginning of this year.
haven't had a secretary of state for communications or minister of
communication since February of this year. And since then it has been under the
president's office," Sosseh said.
said most media institutions and human rights groups have all condemned the Gambian
government's latest attacks on the media
only that, they are helping us in our appeal to get the international community
and ECOWAS (Economic Community for West African States) and the African Union
to have a look at what is happening in the Gambia," she said.
journalists who have served on the executive board of the Gambia Press Union
have either fled Gambia or made to flee.
is currently in Mali on a capacity building initiative with the West African
said she will return to the Gambia. But for now Sosseh said the Gambia Press
Union needs her outside the country to inform the international community about
the plight of Gambian journalists.