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Exiled Gambian journalist escapes kidnapping attempt in Senegal

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 10 March 2008, Yahya Dampha, a Gambian journalist who is in exile in Senegal, escaped a kidnapping attempt by suspected agents of the notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA) of The Gambia.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) sources reported that at about 12:00 p.m. (local time), three plain-clothed agents of the NIA went to Dampha's home in Dakar to abduct him, but thanks to the intervention of his neighbours, the men fled.

The sources said Dampha sought the intervention of his neighbours on recognizing one of the men, Habib Drammeh, an NIA operative attached to President Yahya Jammeh's office in Banjul.

Dampha was one of the witnesses who testified at the ECOWAS Community Court in Abuja, Nigeria in the case of Chief Ebrima Manneh, a "disappeared" Gambian journalist.

In June 2007, the MFWA filed a suit at the community court to demand the release of Manneh who has been in detention since his arrest in 2006.

Dampha and several other witnesses who testified for the plaintiff had mentioned five state agents of The Gambia as having played various roles in the arrest and detention of Manneh.

The alleged attempt to kidnap Dampha occurred the day before the agents were expected to appear before the ECOWAS court.

Dampha told MFWA that prior to the kidnapping attempt, he had been receiving threatening phone calls and his neighbours were also being questioned by agents.

Until he fled The Gambia, Dampha was working with the Banjul-based pro-opposition newspaper, "Foroyaa". He was arrested together with two officials of Amnesty International. They were detained for six days before being charged with espionage.

For further information on the Manneh case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/88886

For further information on Dampha's previous troubles in The Gambia, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/87176

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