IFJ Welcomes Release of BBC correspondent in The Gambia But Calls for Immediate Liberation of Two Other Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called for the immediate and unconditional release of the two journalists Lamin Fatty and Malick Mboob, who are still arbitrarily detained in The Gambia, after the release this morning, of the BBC correspondent, Lamin Cham, arrested on Wednesday 31 May.


"Lamin is feeling well. He was arrested to be questioned about the case of the online newspaper Freedom Newspaper” sources told IFJ.

For this same "case" (see background below), Malick Mboob, Communication Officer of Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital was arrested Friday May 12 by Gambia security forces.


Lamin Fatty, reporter with the private newspaper The Independent is held since April 10 and has been tortured according to IFJ sources. The journalist, who has not appeared before any court since his arrest, is charged with publication of false news.


"Torturing journalists to obtain information is an extremely condemnable attitude. We appeal to President Yahya Jammeh to intervene urgently to stop these practices and to release unconditionally the two journalists arbitrarily imprisoned" declared Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office. "We invite the civil society in the Gambia, in Africa and all over the world to mobilise and pressurise the countries which continue to cooperate with the Jammeh regime in order to put an end to this terrible repression of the media".


Background


In the night from the 22 to May 23, 2006, the website of the Freedom Newspaper was attacked by a hacker who replaced all the initial data by a declaration credited to the director of the online newspaper Pa Nderry Mbai. According to this message Mr Mbai has pledged an allegiance to join the party of President Jammeh and announced the closing of his newspaper. The email box of the director of Freedom Newspaper was also hacked and the names and contacts of the subscribers of his website were published in this false allegiance presenting them like his “informants”.


A press release from the Gambia Police Force, announced later they were in possession of the full list of persons who continually supplied Freedom Newspaper with information which is used to castigate and vilify the government of Alhaji Yahya Jammeh.

According to reports journalists arrested in April this year were tortured and threatened to keep quiet after their release. “Because of these threats and the arrests of their colleagues two journalists have fled the country” sources told IFJ. Their whereabouts are not yet known.


For further information contact the IFJ: +221 842 01 43

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries