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RFI broadcasts suspended over airing of "erroneous news story"

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 15 January 2008, The Gambian authorities indefinitely suspended the broadcast of Radio France International (RFI) in Banjul for airing what they referred to as an "erroneous news story".

A release from the Department of State for Communications, Information and Technology, on 21 January, six days after the closure, in explaining government's action, said the decision was in line with the professional ethics of the media in The Gambia.

RFI was taken off the air following its reports that some Mauritanians accused of killing four French citizens have fled to Guinea Bissau through The Gambia. The RFI news bulletins are broadcast in The Gambia through the government-controlled Radio Gambia.

The release also said the Department has issued a rejoinder to the suspended RFI.

MFWA condemns this latest suspension which is a clear manifestation of President Yahya Jammeh's govermenent's intolerance of critical media.

In 2005, the government revoked the licence of Sud FM saying that allowing it to broadcast would jeopardize relations between The Gambia and its neighbours (see IFEX alerts of 4 November and 24 October 2005).

On 7 February 1998, the government also forcibly shut down Citizen FM and stationed armed guards on its premises. Its proprietor, the late Baboucarr Gaye, was arrested together with his news editor, Ebrima Sillah, and detained for several days at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in Banjul. Gaye was later charged under a 1913 telegraphic law for allegedly operating a radio station without a valid licence. However, the proprietor denied this allegation. The 1913 act is an archaic colonial law that was passed before the advent of radio in The Gambia (see alerts of 27 August 2003, 2 November and 30 October 2001, and others).

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