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Detained journalists charged

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 18 June 2009, eight Gambian Press Union (GPU) executives and newspaper journalists who are being held by the notoriously-feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA) were charged on three counts including "conspiracy to publish with seditious intention".

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) sources reported that the journalists were arraigned before the Kanifing Magistrate Court, presided over by Justice Sainabou Wadda.

The sources said the journalists were made to enter a plea, after which they were denied bail and sent to Mile Two Prison.

The sources, however, said that Sarata Jabbi-Dibba, the first vice president of the GPU, who is the only female in the group and who is a nursing mother, was granted bail in the sum of 200,000 Dalasis (approx. US$7,000).

The seven other journalists were arrested at different times on 15 June over a press statement criticising President Yahya Jammeh over recent comments he made slandering Deyda Hydara, a journalist and an ardent critic of his regime who was gunned down by as-yet unknown assailants. All of the journalists and executives will reappear in court on 22 June.

The GPU executives were Emil Touray, general secretary, and Pa Modou Faal, treasurer. The newspaper journalists were Pap Saine and Ebrima Sawaneh, managing editor and deputy managing editor respectively of "The Point" newspaper. Another journalist Abba Gibba, deputy editor of "The Point", was picked up at the newspaper's office earlier on 15 June. The other two individuals charged were Sam Sarr and Abubacarr Saidykhan, the managing editor and a reporter, respectively, for "Foroyaa" newspaper. They were sent to court without legal representation.
Case history

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