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Publisher Halifa Sallah faces criminal charges, including "sedition"; Magistrate Court grants bail but poses absurd conditions

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 11 March 2009, the Brikama Magistrate Court in The Gambia granted bail to Halifa Sallah, publisher of the pro-opposition "Foroyaa Newspaper", who has been in detention since his arrest on 8 March.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) sources reported that although Sallah has been granted bail, he will not be released immediately from police custody until he is able to fulfill the court's absurd bail conditions.

Sallah was granted bail in the sum of one million Gambian Dalasis (approx. US$47,600) with three sureties. Two of the sureties must be a former Inspector General of Police and an army officer not below the rank of Brigadier General, while the third should be a responsible Gambian citizen. The two high-ranking security officers must be on retirement for a period not less than eight years and must live within the jurisdiction of Brikama.

According to MFWA's sources, the publisher, a member of the editorial board of "Foroyaa Newspaper", was charged with three criminal offences including "publishing with seditious intent" and "spying". He has since pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

On 8 March, five plainclothes police officers arrested Sallah at about 17:15 hours (local time) at his home. Sallah, who is also the minority leader of the National Assembly of The Gambia, had organised a news conference on 11 February, condemning the human rights abuses being perpetrated on Gambian citizens.

Updates the Sallah case:

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