New York, April 6, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists today expressed grave concerns about the prolonged, unexplained detention of two Gambian journalists in a letter to that country’s ambassador to the United Nations, Crispin Grey-Johnson. CPJ representatives hand delivered the message to the Gambian mission to the United Nations, and urged Grey-Johnson to convey the urgent concerns to his government in Banjul.
“The Committee to Protect Journalists views the ongoing detention of these two journalists, as well as your government’s apparent unwillingness to respond to our entreaties, with increasing alarm,” CPJ wrote. “We demand the immediate release of our colleagues, who have been in custody for more than a week and have not been charged with any crime.”
Musa Saidykhan and Madi Ceesay, two senior journalists for the private newspaper The Independent, were taken into custody 10 days ago in a wave of arrests after the government said it foiled a planned coup. Security forces also sealed off the newspaper’s offices. The government has not explained why it is holding the two; Ceesay is also the secretary-general of the Gambia Press Union. They have not been brought before a court, although Gambian law normally requires that a court appearance be made within three days.
An aide at the Gambian mission said Grey-Johnson was not available to meet with CPJ. The message to Grey-Johnson included a copy of CPJ’s March 31 letter to President Yahya Jammeh. CPJ has not received a response to that letter. Read the letter.