Friday, 14 December 2012 01:52(JollofNews) – Authorities in the Gambia have today granted bail to Adboulie John, Banjul editor of JollofNews Online.
Mr John was granted bail by officers of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) at a sum of D50, 000 and asked to surrender his travel documents. He is also asked to report back to the agency next Monday.
Mr John, who is the only Gambian based online newspaper journalist, was picked up on Sunday in Tambakunda village, near the Senegalese province of Casamance by Gambian soldiers while trying to report the release of eight Senegalese soldiers who were taken hostage by a faction of MFDC rebels loyal to Salif Sadio.
The soldiers were captured on December 13, 2011 after their patrol car was ambushed at the Casamance village of Kabeum by separatists fighting for independence of the southern region.
John’s troubles started after he had an argument with State House chief photographer, Sulayman Gassama, who demanded to know who invited him to cover the occasion.
John was later reported to the director of the Gambia’s intelligence agency, who ordered for his immediate arrest. He was taken to Sibanor Police Station in Foni before being transferred to the NIA headquarters in Banjul where he spent the night. He was released the following day after his arrest was widely reported in the online media.
Press freedom situation in the Gambia is the most serious by far in all of West Africa. The country is ranked 141 in the 2012 Press Freedom Index compiled by the Paris based Reporters Without Borders.
Local journalists especially those working for private media houses are seen as a threat to national security and daring to express an opinion or criticise the authorities is immediately regarded by the government as an attempt to besmirch the country's image.
Local journalists are subjected to arson attacks, arbitrary arrest, torture and detention without charge, harassment and intimidation by the security forces.
One journalist, Deyda Hydara of the privately owned Point Newspaper, was shot dead in December 2004 by unidentified gunmen on his way home from work while the whereabouts of another journalist, Chief Ebrima Manneh, who was working for the pro-government newspaper, Daily Observer, are unknown since his arrest by state agents in July 2006 at his newspaper premises.
Mr Manneh was arrested for reproducing a BBC story critical of the President. Despite eye witness reports, the Gambia government has denied arresting him or having him in their custody.
Written by PK Jarju
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