Journalist in Gambia fined on contempt charge

Journalist Abdulhamid Adiamoh was convicted on a contempt-of-court charge on June 28, 2012, and was ordered to pay a fine of 100,000 dalasi (US$3,100) or serve six months in jail with hard labor.

Adiamoh, the managing editor of Today newspaper, was found guilty by Magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe in a lower court in Banjul, capital of the Gambia, concerning an opinion article, “Counsel sidesteps issues in cross-examination of [vice chancellor of the University of The Gambia ] Professor Kah.”

Adiamoh was arrested on June 20 following Alagbe’s orders that he be brought to court on June 28 “to explain why he should not be charged with contempt of court,” in connection with the article, in which he criticized a defense lawyer in the criminal trial of a former lecturer at the university. Despite a public apology published in the Daily Observer, Adiamoh was denied bail and remained in detention for more than a week without charge, longer than the country’s limit of 72 hours, local journalists told CPJ.

Adiamoh, who was released after paying the fine Thursday, told CPJ that he was surprised by the court’s ruling. “I was to come to court to explain why I should not be charged but I was locked up [despite not having been charged]. Then when I got to court, to my surprise, a charge of contempt had already been prepared,” Adiamoh said.

Adiamoh has several times in the past come under fire from Gambian authorities in connection with his reporting, CPJ research shows.