On July 2, 2015, Alhagie Abdoulie Ceesay, the Managing Director of the Sunchu Alagie village community radio Taranga FM, was taken into custody by The Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
Ceesay was reportedly arrested after breaking his Ramadan fast at his residence in Sunchi Alagie village.
“We were just about to start Ataya [brewing the Chinese green tea], when someone came and informed [Abdoulie Ceesay] that a couple of people outside are asking for him,” said Amadou Ceesay, brother of Abdoulie Ceesay. “They came in a dark Pajero with a tinted glass. They had a brief discussion which was, of course, tense, and later took him away. I called him on his phone to find out what was happening, but he would not tell me, only that I should inform the Gambia Press Union.”
According to MFWA’s sources in The Gambia, Amadou Ceesay did not know the exact motivation behind his brother’s arrest. However, he suggested that the arrest might have been linked to a “critical statement” Abdoulie Ceesay made on his Facebook page. This Facebook posting can no longer be accessed, so the MFWA and its sources were unable to determine whether the post was a direct attack on the government or the leadership of the country.
Meanwhile, Taranga FM has remained on air despite several previous problems with Gambian authorities, including an order to close down following the December 30, 2014 attempted coup.
The MFWA remains worried about the safety of journalists and media workers in The Gambia, where impunity for crimes has been the norm under President Yahya Jammeh, and urges the NIA to respect Abdoulie Cessay’s right to freedom of expression and immediately release him.