Gambia: IFJ calls for the immediate release of jailed journalist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has backed calls by the Gambia Press Union (GPU) for all charges against jailed radio journalist Alhagie Ceesay to be dropped and for his immediate release. The journalist, manager at Taranga FM, was arrested last year and is critically ill in hospital. In an open letter to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice the GPU noted that Ceesay has been “held incommunicado detention for 29 days before he was arraigned in September 2015 and charged with sedition and false news.” Since then, Ceesay has been in and out of hospital and his health has seriously deteriorated. According to the GPU, Ceesay was hospitalised at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital on Monday 11 April, in a critical condition, but was returned to prison that same evening. He was readmitted two days later after his condition had reportedly deteriorated. The IFJ shares the GPU’s concerns for the well-being of Ceesay and has urged the government to drop the charges and allow him to be reunited with his family. IFJ President, Jim Boumelha said: “We condemn the appalling conditions of Ceesay’s detention on spurious charges and the delaying tactics, including unnecessary adjournments and absenteeism, which make a mockery of justice. He is now suffering ill health and needs to be with his family for comfort and care. We urge the authorities to do the right thing and release him into his family’s care.”

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