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Managing director granted bail, his passport confiscated

(MFWA/IFEX) - The Kanifing Court trying Dida Halake, former Managing Director of the Observer Company Limited, publishers of the pro-government "Daily Observer" newspaper, on 25 June 2008 granted him bail after almost two weeks in detention.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) sources reported that he was granted bail in the sum of 25,000 Gambian Dalasi (approx. US$11,901) and one surety to reappear on 9 July.

Halake was charged with two counts of allegedly uttering seditious words and also giving "false information" to Amadou Samba, a close confidante of President Yahya Jammeh and owner of the newspaper.

MFWA sources say the charges stemmed from information he allegedly sent via Short Message System (SMS) to The Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. This, according to the prosecution, was a threat to the Observer Company.

The former Managing Director has denied both charges.

Halake, who is said to be of Kenyan-British descent, according to the sources, told the court that he was a British national of Ethiopian parentage. He was ordered to hand over his travelling documents to the Assistant Registrar to prevent him from travelling out of the country.

Halake was arrested on 12 June and detained illegally for eleven days in police custody before he was brought before court on 23 June. The court dismissed the charge against him before he was rearrested and new charges preferred against him.

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