Gambia spy agency arrests online editor

Gambia spy agency arrest online editor
Abdoulie John, the Gambian editor of online paper JollofNews who was yesterday arrested by the National Intelligence Agency. Photo | BABOUCARR CEESAY 

Abdoulie John, the Gambian editor of online paper JollofNews, was yesterday arrested by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

The editor who was attending a ceremony in Tambakunda village, near the Senegalese province of Casamance, was arrested after having a confrontation with a State House photographer.

According to the JollofNews website, the Gambian government is back to its penchant of gagging the media.

“Upon their arrival in Tambakunda, the photographer, Sulayman Gassama, demanded to know who invited John to the occasion. Even though the journalist told the photographer to go and ask the organisers, he insisted, forcing the journalist to tell him to go to hell,” the online site reported.

According to sources, the NIA chief Numo Kujabi then ordered his arrest and Abdoulie John was detained at the Sibanor Police Station in Fonni before being taken to the NIA headquarters in Banjul.

Journalists working with private media continue to bear the brunt of media gagging in the West African nation, though those working with pro-government media outlets also face some restrictions.

Members of the civil society and human rights groups have since condemned the arbitrary arrest of the Gambian editor.

Earlier on Saturday police arrested the younger brother of journalist Abubacarr Saidykhan without giving any reason for his arrest.

According to the journalist, the police had a week earlier come looking for his brother Ousman Saidykhan at their home.

“On Friday, November 23, 2012, two officials of the Gambia Police Force visited my compound in Ebo Town, in the Kanifing Municipality, requesting to know my whereabouts from my family or else they would be left with no options but to arrest my younger brother Ousman so that he gives information about me to the authorities,” explained Abubacarr.

Abubacarr Saidykhan is one of the two Gambian journalists who applied for a permit to organise a peaceful demonstration against the recent execution of nine death row inmates.

He was arrested, detained and charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and incitement to violence. (Also arrested charged with him at the time was this reporter, who is a representative of the of Gambia Press Union).

Both journalists received death threats via email from an unknown person describing themselves as a "patriotic" killer and ‘mofala jato’, which in the Mandinka language means the 'killer lion'.

Even though the state has dropped all the criminal charges against the two, they continue to receive threats.

Ousman, who is a recent high school graduate, is still being detained by the police though he argues that he has no information about his brother's whereabouts.

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