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Newspaper employee detained without charge for "insulting" Gambian president

Campaign cloth for Gambian President Yahya Jammeh and his political party.
Campaign cloth for Gambian President Yahya Jammeh and his political party.

Tommy Miles/Flickr

Mass Kah, a messenger at the privately-owned Foroyaa newspaper was on November 14, 2013, arrested by police over allegations of denigrating and insulting Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh.

The MFWA's sources in the country reported Kah was having a discussion with a friend in front of his home in Serekunda when two supporters of President Jammeh confronted him about his comments and reported him to the police.

In said discussion, Kah reportedly said Halifa Sallah, who is the leader of the opposition People's Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism party, was "the only man who wears trousers in The Gambia".

According to MFWA's sources, the statement was understood as meaning Sallah was more capable of leading the country than President Jammeh.

He was arrested and detained without any charge at Serekunda police station where he was subjected to fierce interrogations and insults by police officers before being transferred to Kotu police station, about 13 kilometers southwest of the capital, Banjul.

He is currently in the custody of the National Intelligence Agency in Banjul and has been denied access to family and friends during the past 6 days he has been in detention.

Meanwhile the managing editor of Foroyaa newspaper, Sam Sarr, has said all attempts to meet with the officer in charge of Kah's case to secure bail for him have proven futile. He said if securing bail failed, his newspaper would resort to taking legal action against the state.

The MFWA condemns the continuous detention of Kah and demands his immediate release. We call on the Gambian authorities to respect Section 19 of the country's constitution which states that a person shall not be detained for more than 72 hours without either being granted bail or charged for court.

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