IFJ Demands End to Harassment of Gambian Journalist Accused of Spying

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called for the end of the harassment of Yaya Dampha a Gambian journalist and two Amnesty International staff who were released on bail Monday after two days detention for allegedly ‘spying’ while visiting an imprisoned member of the opposition on Saturday.

“We condemn these arrests and the ridiculous spying accusations,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. “We call on the Gambian government to end the harassment of Dampha and the Amnesty staff. A government that bans media and NGO’s from visiting prisoners is a government with something to hide.”

On Saturday, Yahya Dampha, a journalist with the pro-opposition newspaper Foroyaa was arrested along with two Amnesty International researchers Tania Bernath (British and U.S.) and Ayodele Ameen (Nigerian) and their Gambian driver, in the town of Basse in eastern Gambia.

According to local sources, they had just visited a jailed opposition member in a police station when they were arrested by the National Intelligence Agency officers and transferred to the capital city Banjul on Sunday. The driver was released whilst Dampha and the two researchers were detained at the Banjul Police Station.

They are suspected of spying and have not yet been charged. During the interrogation they were asked why they did not seek permission before proceeding to visit police stations.

Dampha and the researchers were released on bail yesterday evening. The bail condition is 100,000 dalasi (3,800 Euros) for each of them. They were asked to report back to the police today.

According to sources, the Amnesty staff arrived in the Gambia Tuesday to conduct good governance training for civil society groups and journalists.

The IFJ also reiterates its call for the Gambian authorities to provide evidence that the journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh who has been missing for more than a year is alive after a prison source claimed that he had been killed.

For more information contact the IFJ at + 221 33 842 01 43

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries worldwide