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Gambia15 January 2007

Journalist missing since July being held in provincial police station, newspaper discovers

The opposition triweekly Foroyaa has revealed that “Chief” Ebrima Manneh, a journalist with the privately-owned Daily Observer newspaper who went missing on 7 July, is being held at a police station in Fatoto, a small town 400 km east of the capital.

“Manneh must be freed at once,” Reporters Without Borders said today. “There is no law that allows him to be secretly held for seven months. The scandal of his illegal detention has been compounded by the government’s cruelty towards his family in insisting all this time that it was not holding him.”

The 12-14 January issue of Foroyaa said Manneh has been at the Fatoto police station for the past three months and three weeks. Arrested at his home by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on 7 July, he was initially held at Mile Two prison in Banjul, the newspaper said. He was then transferred to police stations at Kartong and Kuntaur before finally being taken to Fatoto.

During all this time, Manneh’s family and friends repeatedly asked the authorities if they were holding him, and they always denied that they were. No charges have been brought against him.

It is not known why Manneh was arrested shortly after an African Union summit in Banjul on 1-2 July. Several members of the independent press were arrested at the time for allegedly disrupting the event.

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