Adama Gaye, a freelance journalist known for his critical articles in the newspapers and social media, has been remanded in prison custody on charges of “insulting the President of the Republic.”
Gaye, who previously worked with Jeune Afrique magazine, was arrested by the police in his home in Kebe, Central Dakar, on July 29, 2019.
The arrest follows a publication on Gaye’s Facebook page which alleged that President Macky Sall had an adulterous affair during a recent official trip abroad.
The Minister of Justice declared that he takes “full responsibility” for the arrest.
“In this Adama Gaye affair, I assume full responsibility. As the Minister of Justice, I cannot look on for an individual, by his writings and statements spend his time insulting the person who embodies the most important institution, the President of the Republic,” the Justice Minister, Malick Sall, said shortly after Gaye’s arrest.
Gaye has denied writing the said piece. He claimed that his Facebook account might have been compromised and called for an investigation. Charged with insulting the President under Article 80 of the criminal code, the journalist appeared before prosecutors on the day of his arrest.
After three days in police custody, he was remanded in prison custody on July 31, 2019. If found guilty, Gaye risks up to ten years in prison. His lawyers say they will put in an application for his release while the legal processes continue.
While we do not condone vacant allegations in either the traditional or online media that have the potential to defame other people, we also strongly advocate that defamation complaints be settled through civil rather than criminal procedures. We seize this opportunity to urge the Senegalese government to decriminalise libel while calling on journalists to be professional at all times.