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Authorities block access to online newspaper

(MFWA/IFEX) - 7 June 2010 - On 4 June 2010, the publishers of US-based The Gambia Echo newspaper filed a complaint to the US government regarding the blocking of its IP address by the Gambian authorities, which makes it impossible for its readers within the country to access the news site.

A letter to the US State Department said: "Jammeh's blocking of The [Gambia] Echo's IP signals to our homeland readership constitutes a flagrant violation of their constitutional right to freedom of press and access to information online . . ."

The letter signed by Ebrima G. Sankareh, its editor-in-chief, said for the past four years "The Gambia Echo has become a dependable medium for a multitude of Gambians" since the repressive regime of President Yahya Jammeh has effectively restricted the flow of information.

The online newspaper said it received reports from its readers as well as correspondents about their inability to access the website.

Blocking of online news sites in the Gambia is not new. Gambian online newspapers have suffered repeated censorship from the authorities. In 2008 for instance, The Gambia Echo and Freedom Newspaper, another online newspaper, were blocked for being critical of the administration. In the case of the Freedom Newspaper, it reported on the alleged corruption and mismanagement at the country's state telecommunication company.

The 15-year rule of President Jammeh has been characterised by torture, disappearance and killings, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention. This situation has forced several journalists working in the independent media into exile. Ebrima G. Sankareh is an example of such a victim. He was forced out of the country about 16 years ago, while working with the privately-owned "The Point" newspaper.

The Gambia Echo
Freedom Newspaper
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