Jailed state TV journalist freed without charge and fired

New York, September 15, 2006—A state television reporter jailed secretly for almost a week was released without charge on Thursday but learned that he had been fired from his job, according to CPJ sources. Dodou Sanneh, a senior TV producer with Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS), was arrested on September 8 after covering an opposition candidate running in the September 22 presidential election.

Sanneh’s employment contract was apparently terminated the same day he was detained by the government’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and interrogated about his coverage of opposition candidate Ousainou Darboe, according to a source who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution from authorities. No explanation was given for the termination. Calls made to GRTS offices today went unanswered. The source said that the NIA had confiscated all Sanneh’s reports on Darboe, one of two candidates running against President Yahya Jammeh.

“How can you claim to have a democratic election when you throw a journalist in jail for covering an opposition candidate?” asked CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The government’s assault on the free press makes a mockery of the democratic process.”

A second source, who confirmed Sanneh’s release from jail and dismissal from GRTS, told CPJ that Sanneh had been told to report back to the NIA on September 18. Sources in Gambia, a highly repressive country, are reluctant to speak on the record out of fear of reprisal. Since March, the government has shut a leading independent newspaper, detained at least 10 journalists, and brought a reporter to trial under a repressive new law.

For more CPJ reporting on this case see: