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Journalist, Amnesty International officials released on bail, still face charges

(MFWA/IFEX) - Yaya Dampha, a journalist with the bi-weekly "Foroyaa", a Banjul-based pro-opposition newspaper, and two Amnesty International (AI)-UK officials, Tania Bernath, AI director for Africa, and Ayodele Ameen, campaign officer for West Africa, were released on bail on 8 October 2007, after 48 hours in detention.

Each detainee was granted bail for the sum of 100,000 Dalasi (approx. US$5,000). Bernath and Ameen were also ordered to surrender their passports.

MFWA sources reported that Dampha, Bernath and Ameen, who are yet to be charged, reported to the central police high command in Banjul on 9 October only to be told to report back on 11 October.

On 6 October, the journalist and AI officials, together with their driver, were arrested by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in the eastern town of Basse, about 500 kilometres Banjul, while on a working visit authorised by the Gambian authorities.

MFWA sources said Dampha and the AI officials went to detention centres in the countryside to look for disappeared Gambians, including journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh and opposition politicians Kanyiba Kanyi and Ousman Rambo Jatta, who were all arrested in 2006.

Upon their arrest, the four were taken to the residence of the governor of Upper River Region for interrogation and were accused of espionage. They were later transferred to Basse Police Station where they spent the night, only to be transferred again to the Criminal Investigation Department of the Central Police headquarters in Banjul on 7 October.

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