UPDATE: Gambian journalists charged and released on bail
BBC correspondent reportedly denied entry
By: Fatma Elshhati, IPI Staff
VIENNA, Sep 13, 2012- Gambian journalists Babucarr Ceesay and Abubacarr Saidykhan were released on bail on Monday. The pair, who were detained over the weekend, were released on a bail bond of 250,000 dalasi (Approx. €6,300) each.
Ceesay and Saidykhan are additionally required to report to police headquarters on Sep. 17. IPI sources in the country told IPI earlier this week that police had not released a charge sheet, but news reports said that the journalists had been charged with “conspiracy to commit felony”.
In a separate incident, BBC correspondent Thomas Fessy today reported that he was denied entry into The Gambia after he arrived at Banjul International Airport. Fessy, who was held for five hours, said on BBC radio that he was only released after the British High Commission intervened despite having a valid visa for the country.
The journalist reported that he was in The Gambia to cover the president's recent decision to execute nine death row prisoners.
IPI concerned at journalist detentions in the Gambia
Babucarr Ceesay and Abubacarr Saidykhan reportedly held by police
VIENNA, Sep 10, 2012 – The International Press Institute expressed its concern over the arrest of two Gambian journalists reported by journalists and local media over the weekend.
Babucarr Ceesay and Abubacarr Saidykhan were detained by police on either Thursday or Friday, depending on reports, shortly after filing an application at the station to demonstrate against the recent execution of nine prisoners. The inmates, who were killed by firing squad on August 24, were the first to be executed in The Gambia for almost thirty years, reports said.
Babucarr Ceesay is the vice president of the Gambia Press Union, runs a website called the Gambia Watchdog, reports for the Africa Review, and recently created a Facebook page called Gambia Free Expression, according to reports received by email and on The Gambia Echo news website. The Facebook page has around 70 members. Saidykhan is a freelance and “activist journalist“ who, like Ceesay, used to work for Foroyaa newspaper, Jollof News online reported.
Reports say the pair were subjected to interrogation. The International Federation of Journalists released a statement about the journalists on Sunday, at which time they reported that the pair was still in custody.
“We are deeply concerned for the well-being of Babucarr Ceesay and Abubacarr Saidykhan,“ said IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills. “We remind the Gambian police that the journalists have a right to freedom of expression and press freedom and shouldn’t be targeted for their work.“