Abdulhamid Adiamoh (The Point)
Abdulhamid Adiamoh (The Point)

Journalist in the Gambia detained beyond legal limit

Abuja, Nigeria, June 25, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Gambian authorities to immediately release or charge a journalist who has been in detention without charge longer than the country’s limit of 72 hours.

Abdulhamid Adiamoh, the managing editor of the Today newspaper, was arrested Wednesday in connection with an opinion article, “Counsel sidesteps issues in cross-examination of [vice chancellor of the University of The Gambia ] Professor Kah,” in which he criticized a defense lawyer in the criminal trial of a former lecturer at the university.

Judge Taiwo Alagbe Ade of the magistrate’s court in the capital Banjul ordered Adiamoh’s arrest on accusations of misreporting the defense counsel’s cross-examination of a witness and ordered that he be brought to court on June 28, media reports said. Adiamoh was being held at police headquarters in Banjul, the reports said. Local journalists told CPJ that he was denied bail and has been transferred to Mile 2 central prison.

Police spokesman Yorro Mballow told CPJ that Adiamoh was in detention for “just two days” but declined to clarify the journalist’s current status. “I can’t say anything about this. I am not saying he was released. He is before the court, and I can’t speak for the court,” Mballow said.

“Journalists should be allowed to shine a light on court proceedings without fearing that their coverage will land them behind bars,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita in New York. “Authorities should release Abdulhamid Adiamoh immediately.”

Adiamoh has several times in the past been detained by police in connection with his reporting, according to CPJ research.

Separately, another journalist, Lamin Njie, deputy editor-in-chief of the independent Daily News, was detained over the weekend on contempt of court accusations for incorrectly reporting that a high court judge had denied bail to four top officials of the Gambia Revenue Authority who are accused of tax-related offenses, according to news reports. Judge Emmanuel Nkea ordered the detention of Njie at Mile 2 Prison on Friday, although his newspaper published an apology and correction on Wednesday. He was released today without charge.