Baboucarr Ceesay, first vice president of the Gambian Press Union (GPU), also working with the privately-owned Daily News newspaper, and Abubacarr Saidykhan, a freelance journalist, were on September 10, 2012 charged “with conspiracy to commit felony” by Gambian police prosecutors. The Media Foundation for West Africa’s (MFWA) sources reported that the charge on the journalists followed their arrest and detention on September 6, 2012, after seeking a police permit to peacefully protest against the execution of nine death row inmates upon the orders of President Yahya Jammeh.
They were, however, released on September 10 after signing a bail bond of 250,000 Gambian Dalasis (about US$8,333 ) each, with one Gambian surety. The two, until their release, had been in the custody of the Interpol Unit of the Gambian police service. According to the sources, initial charges of “inciting violence” were dropped and replaced with the charge of conspiracy to commit felony. However, when officials of the Gambian Press Union (GPU) demanded to see the charge sheet, a senior police officer retorted that they could not give out a charge sheet, explaining that they were still investigating the matter.
Ceesay and Saidykhan are expected to be arraigned before Court on September 17, 2012, the sources reported. The MFWA is dismayed at this event, as the journalists, by seeking permission to protest, demonstrated their respect and faith in the authorities. In that regard the MFWA calls on the Gambian government to drop this charge, uphold and respect Section 25 of the Gambian Constitution which entrenches the right to peaceful demonstration.
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