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"DISAPPEARED" JOURNALIST SPOTTED AT LOCAL HOSPITAL

A journalist who has been missing for more than a year was spotted at Gambia's main hospital, reports Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), who has focused a campaign on the case.

"Chief" Ebrima Manneh, a reporter with the pro-government newspaper "Daily Observer", was seen on 26 July at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in Banjul, where he was getting treatment for high blood pressure. He was then transferred to a military clinic nearby.

MFWA reports that in the hospital, he was in the company of personnel of the Police Intervention Unit, a paramilitary wing of the Gambian police force.

Manneh has been held incommunicado without charge or trial since July 2006 after allegedly passing on "damaging" information to a foreign journalist at the African Union Heads of State summit a week prior. According to MFWA, Manneh's colleagues witnessed his arrest by two plainclothes officers of the National Intelligence Agency, although the security force has repeatedly denied any knowledge of his whereabouts. Manneh is believed to have been detained in Mile Two Central Prison in Banjul's outskirts, after being moved from one detention centre to another in many of Gambia's police stations.

MFWA recently filed a lawsuit against the government at the Community Court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanding Manneh's release and compensation for the time he has spent in detention. A government representative failed to appear at a 16 July preliminary hearing. The next court date is scheduled for 26 September.

Visit these links:
- MFWA alerts on the Gambia: http://tinyurl.com/38q3ty
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/36bsvn
(31 July 2007)

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