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Campaign for press freedom goes global as government revokes journalists' bail

(IFJ/IFEX) - 3 July 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today said that the campaign for press freedom in Gambia will grow stronger as human rights organisations and trade unions joined in the activities which took place in Europe and Africa to protest against the prosecution of seven Gambian journalists, accused of sedition and defamation.

The unprecedented show of solidarity to Gambian journalists took place today when the seven journalists, including senior officials of the Gambia Press Union, an IFJ affiliate, who had been arrested last month and given bail were re-arrested and remanded in custody on the day their trial was due to start.

"We strongly condemn the unwise decision by the Gambian judges to remand our colleagues in jail," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "This action flies in the face of the strongest global protest in Africa since the fight against apartheid, involving the world journalist community, the global trade union movement and scores of human rights groups."

According to reports, the judge in Banjul revoked their bail without giving any reason and requested their legal team to re-submit the bail application.

On a day of coordinated activities against the repression of press freedom in Gambia, the IFJ President joined a delegation from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), an IFJ affiliate, the British Trade Union Congress and Amnesty International to delivered a letter of protest to President Jammeh of the Gambia at the country's High Commission in London.

A joint delegation of the IFJ and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) handed in a letter at the Gambian embassy in Brussels and other IFJ affiliates in Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, France, Ethiopia and Senegal sent in protest letters.

The IFJ says the court decision will only energise further the campaign to secure justice and the release of the detained journalists.

"We will carry on and expand our global campaign until our colleagues are freed and the charges dropped," added Boumelha.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide.

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