Malick Jones, a producer with state-owned Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS),
was released from Mile Two prison in Banjul on 22 September after paying bail of 200,000 dalasis (6,730 euros).
20.09.2007 - Government press officer freed on bail but co-defendant still held
Presidential press officer Mam Sait Ceesay was released yesterday from Mile Two prison in Banjul after paying bail of 200,000 dalasis (6,730 euros) but co-defendant Malick Jones, a producer with state-owned Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS), is still held because he could not raise the bail money.
They were arrested on 9 September for wrongly informing the pro-government Daily Observer newspaper that President Yahya Jammeh had fired his press and public relations director. Reporters Without Borders has been told they are also alleged to have provided information to Freedom Newspaper, a US-based website that is very critical of the Gambian government and claims to have sources inside the president’s office.
14.09.2007 - Public TV producer and presidential press officer jailed for giving wrong information to media
The detention of state-owned Gambia Radio and Television Services senior producer Malick Jones and presidential press officer Mam Sait Ceesay since 9 September for allegedly providing false information to the media, despite a court order yesterday releasing them on bail, constitutes denial of justice, Reporters Without Borders said today.
“President Yahya Jammeh and his aides consider themselves above the law and any citizen, including the most loyal ones, are at the mercy of Jammeh’s whims,” the press freedom organisation said. “Jones and Ceesay are now being held at the sinister Mile Two prison for a minor offence although a court granted them a provisional release.”
Reporters Without Borders added : “At one level, their detention appears to be the result of in-fighting within the president’s inner circle. But it is also indicative of Jammeh’s paranoia and his determination to keep news and information under strict control, regardless of the price for journalists who refuse to conform."
Jones and Ceesay, who used to edit the privately-owned, pro-government Daily Observer newspaper, were arrested by police on 9 September and held incommunicado for four days. Yesterday they were brought before a Banjul court and pleaded not guilty to “communicating information to a foreign journalist” under article 4 (1) of the 1990 Official Security Act.
Judge B.Y. Camara released them on bail of 200,000 dalasis (6,730 euros) pending trial in two weeks’ time. But they were rearrested as they left the court and taken to Mile Two prison near Banjul, without any explanation being offered by the authorities.
Several sources in Gambia said they were arrested for telling the Daily Observer that Ebrima J.T. Kujabi had been fired as the president’s press and public relations director. It turned out to be wrong. The newspaper published a brief on 7 September saying Kujabi had been replaced by Alex Da Costa, a former Medical Research Council press officer and onetime head of protocol for former president Dawda Jawara. Jammeh is in the habit of suddenly dismissing aides or senior security officials.
Reporters Without Borders has been told that Jones and Ceesay are also alleged to have provided information to Freedom Newspaper, an opposition website based in the United States which is an outspoken critic of the Gambian government and which boasts of having sources inside the president’s office.