On July 22, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh once again went after journalists in an interview on the country's only state-run television station. The president made a thinly veiled threat toward six independent journalists currently facing "seditious publication" and "criminal defamation" charges in the country: "So they think they can hide behind so-called press freedom and violate the law and get away with it. They got it wrong this time. We are going to prosecute them to the letter," Jammeh said.
My intention to remain in my home country, to use my pen to correct injustice, and to champion press freedom was aborted by security threats that forced me and my family into exile. I left behind my beloved country and editorial desk in the hands of perpetrators.
The unlawful detention
of seven Gambian journalists since last Monday is serious cause for
concern. These respected journalists were detained at the National Intelligence
Agency headquarters in
Last week, President Yahya Jammeh, at left, discussed the unsolved 2004 murder case of editor Deyda Hydara in an interview on "One on One," a weekly program on The Gambia Radio and Television Service. The government "has for long been accused by the international community and so-called human rights organisations for the murder of Deyda Hydara, but we have no stake in this issue," media reports quoted Jammeh as saying. "And up to now one of these stupid Web sites carries 'Who Killed Deyda Hydara'? Let them go and ask Deyda Hydara who killed him," The Point newspaper quoted him as saying.
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) leads a group of six senators to call for the immediate release of the former state Daily Observer newspaper, "Chief" Ebrima Manneh today. Colleagues at the newspaper say they witnessed two plainclothes Gambian National Intelligence Agency officers whisk Manneh, right, away in July 2006. He has not been seen since despite repeated calls to the government to disclose his whereabouts.
Eyewitnesses saw him being led away. "We were in our
7, 2006, working on the next issue of the Daily Observer, when two plainclothes
officers with the Gambian National Intelligence Agency approached Chief," wrote Observer editor
and correspondent Ousman Darboe. "I knew one of the officers as a Corporal
Sey. They told Chief, a subeditor and reporter at the paper, that he was needed
at the Bakau police station for questioning. He went along voluntarily, leaving
his bag behind and saying he was confident he would be back soon."
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.