The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today condemned the arbitrary arrest and detention of Abdoulie John, a Gambian journalist who was reportedly held by national security officers yesterday.
"We are seriously concerned for the physical safety of Abdoulie and urge the Gambian authorities to first indicate where he is detained and immediately release him," said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Director. "We insist on knowing the place of his detention because his arrest reminds us of the case of Chief Ebrimah Manneh who disappeared in 2006 in similar circumstances. We will hold authorities in The Gambia entirely responsible for our colleague's life," said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Director.
According to independent sources in The Gambia, Abdoulie John, editor of a website, Joloff news, was arrested on Sunday 9 December by security forces on the order of the National Intelligence Agency after a confrontation with President Yaya Jammeh's personal photographer, Sulaylan Gassama.
Reports say that the incident took place in a Gambian village where John was covering a ceremony in which eight Senegalese soldiers were released after a 14-month detention with the rebels in the South Casamance region. Gassama reportedly insisted on knowing who had invited John to the ceremony.
The reporter is said to have referred him to the organizer but later the director of the National Intelligence Agency Director ordered security forces to arrest the journalist. He was put in a military pick-up and taken to a police station from where he is believed to have been transferred to Banjul.
The IFJ says that John's arrest is arbitrary and blatant intimidation of a journalist who had the right to cover a public event.
"The incident fits the pattern of ruthless repression of independent reporting in Gambia where harassment, torture and killings of journalists are common since President Jammeh came to power," added Baglo. "Our colleague is in grave danger and the international community must raise the alarm before it is too late."