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Newspaper publisher detained again, court grants him bail

(MFWA/IFEX) - Abdul Hamid Adiamoh, publisher and editor of "Today", a privately-owned, Banjul-based newspaper, was arrested for the third time on 26 August 2008 and held overnight at a police station in Serrekunda, Gambia's second largest city.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) sources reported that Adiamoh was granted bail on 27 August by the Kanifing Magistrate court in the sum of 200,000 Gambian Dalasis (approx. US$9,500) and one surety.

The reason for Adiamoh's criminal charges was that his newspaper published an article and photographs about some Gambian children who often abandoned school to search for metal scraps in waste dumps.

Adiamoh, a Nigerian, has been charged with "publishing with seditious intention" and will reappear in court on 10 September.

The reasons for Adiamoh's latest arrest and subsequent detention remain unclear. However, he had been previously arrested and detained on two occasions.

The sources said Adiamoh was initially arraigned before the Banjul Magistrate court, but the presiding judge transferred the matter to the Kanifing court, which has been handling cases involving journalists and the media.

The Kanifing court presided over by Justice Buba Jawo has been notorious in imposing outrageous fines on journalists. On 18 August, Buba Jawo convicted Fatou Jaw Manneh, a female US-based Gambian journalist, following her criticism of President Yahya Jammeh and his administration. The same court also convicted Lamin Fatty, a reporter of the banned Banjul-based "The Independent" newspaper, in 2007.

Meanwhile, MFWA has learned that the publisher has been harassed by the authorities ever since he employed Buya Jammeh. Jammeh, then working for the pro-government "Daily Observer", was dismissed for being an executive member of the Gambian Press Union (GPU).

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