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Gambia Releases Detained BBC Journalist

June 7, 2006

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) _ An international media watchdog group on Tuesday welcomed the release of a local correspondent of the British Broadcasting Corp. in Gambia, but lashed out at the tiny country for the continued imprisonment of two other reporters.

Lamin Cham, who works for the BBC’s Africa service, had been held since May 30 by Gambian authorities as part of a government crackdown on a U.S.-based Web site, Freedom Newspaper, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Freedom Newspaper, run by a U.S.-based Gambian journalist, has been critical of Gambia’s government. The country of 1.5 million people is ruled by President Yahya Jammeh who seized power in a bloodless 1994 coup.

A dozen Gambians suspected of contributing to the Freedom Newspaper site have been detained and released in recent weeks, CPJ said. But two other journalists are still being held: Malick Mboob, a former reporter for the Daily Observer, and Lamin Fatty of the Banjul-based newspaper The Independent, which was shut down by authorities in late March.

``Gambian authorities will clearly go to any length to silence the press,″ said Ann Cooper, CPJ’s executive director. ``We are deeply troubled by the continued imprisonment of Malick Mboob and Lamin Fatty, who should be released immediately and unconditionally.″

In March, Gambian authorities said they foiled a coup plot planned by top military officials, including the country’s army chief.

Gambia, known for quiet Atlantic Ocean beaches, is a popular tourist destination for Britons. The Anglophone nation is sandwiched between northern and southern regions of Senegal.

Presidential elections are expected in September.


On the Net:

Committee to Protect Journalists: http://www.cpj.org

Freedom Newspaper: http://www.freedomnewspaper.com

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