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Gambia8 August 2002

Journalist Pa Ousman Darboe released

08.8.02

Pa Ousman Darboe was released on 5 August without any charge being pressed against him. Nonetheless, Gambian secret service officials have asked him to remain available to the authorities.


08.6.02 - Journalist held over alleged slur on vice-president’s late husband

Reporters Without Borders today called for the immediate and unconditional release of journalist Pa Ousman Darboe, who has been held since 2 August in connection with an article in the Banjul biweekly The Independent reporting that the vice-president had remarried, and mentioning her late husband’s legal problems. The Independent’s editor, Alhaji Yoro Jallow was detained on 3 August but was released the same day.

"These new arrests, coming soon after the promulgation of a law creating a National Media Commission, are worrying for press freedom in Gambia", said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to President Yayha Jammeh. "If the facts reported by the journalist were erroneous, the vice-president had every right to demand a retraction from the newspaper, but nothing justifies the journalist’s prolonged detention. We request his immediate and unconditional release".

Darboe was arrested on 2 August by officials of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) - Gambia’s secret service - and is apparently still being detained. Jarrow was also arrested by the NIA but was released after questioning. The arrests followed publication of an article reporting Vice-President Njie Saidy’s remarriage to a retired school teacher, Alpha Khan, a year after her former husband’s death.

Persons close to Khan told Agence France-Presse that no marriage had taken place. At the same time, the vice-president apparently did not appreciate the fact that the article recalled that, before his death, her late husband was ordered by a government commission of enquiry to reimburse about one million CFA francs (1,525 Euros) in travel expenses.

Previously, NIA officials arrested Congolese reporter Guy-Patrick Massoloka on 19 July. He was finally released on 1 August.



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