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Months-old court case against editor revived

"The Point" editor Pap Saine is one of six recently-detained Gambian journalists on trial for sedition and defamation, following the acquittal of a seventh reporter

(IPI/IFEX) - 29 July, VIENNA - A months-old court case against the editor of Gambia's The Point newspaper, who was arrested along with six other journalists on unrelated charges of sedition and defamation in June, has been revived, a statement by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) said on Wednesday.

Pap Saine was arrested on 15 June, along with Ebrima Sawaneh, also of The Point, Sam Sarr and Abubakar Saidykhan of Forayaa newspaper, and Emil Touray, Sarata Jabbi-Dibba and Pa Modou Fall of the Gambia Press Union (GPU), following the publication of a GPU statement criticising President Yahya Jammeh over comments he made about another Gambian journalist, Deyda Hydara, who was co-founder and editor of The Point and was murdered in 2004.

Abubakar Saidykhan has since been acquitted. A reporter for Forayaa newspaper, he was detained along with the paper's editor Sam Sarr. While Sarr was arrested in connection with the Gambia Press Union statement criticising President Jammeh's televised remarks, Saidykhan was arrested for "raising the alarm" about Sarr's arrest and attempting to photograph the incident, according to the MFWA.

In addition to the charges related to his June arrest, Pap Saine now also faces trial - again - on charges of publishing "false information" stemming from a 30 January article he wrote in The Point.

The article described a diplomatic reshuffle in Gambia's Washington, D.C. embassy. As the International Press Institute (IPI) reported earlier this year, Saine was charged on 2 February after refusing to reveal his sources to the authorities. He was freed in April after his lawyers raised objections to errors on the charge sheet.

In March, Saine was charged with obtaining a passport and birth certificate by false pretence, but was acquitted in June.

"The Gambian government's continued harassment of The Point and its editor, Pap Saine is unacceptable," said David Dadge, director of IPI. "In light of the international condemnation of the arrests of these journalists, Gambia must immediately release Pap Saine and the five other journalists currently in custody."

IPI has also repeatedly called for a thorough investigation into the December 2004 murder of the founder and editor of The Point, Deyda Hydara, who was brutally assassinated by unknown gunmen. No one has yet been brought to justice for the crime.

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