Tuesday, June 26, 2012

CPJ call for immediate release of Gambian editor

The United States-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Monday called on Gambian authorities to immediately release or charge Mr. Abdulhamid Adiamoh, the managing editor and publisher of Today Newspaper.

CPJ said Mr. Adiamoh, who was arrested on June 20 has been in detention without charge longer than the country's limit of 72 hours.

His arrest, ordered by Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade, is in connection with an opinion article "Counsel sidesteps issues in cross-examination of [vice chancellor of the University of The Gambia] Professor Kah," in which he criticized a defense lawyer, Badou S.M. Conteh, in the criminal trial of Dr. Gumbo Ali Touray, a former lecturer at the university.

Counsel Conteh accuses Mr. Adiamoh of making “anomalous reporting” of his cross-examination of University Vice Chancellor Muhammad O. Kah in an article published on Today Newspaper’s front page Tuesday edition of June 19.

Ade, who is presiding over the Banjul Magistrate Court, said Mr. Adiamoh should appear in court on Thursday June 28 to prove why he should not be “charge with contempt of court.” 

Adiamoh was being held at police headquarters in Banjul, but CPJ quoted local journalists to have said “he was denied bail and has been transferred to Mile 2 central prison.”

Police spokesperson Yorro Mballow told CPJ that Adiamoh was in detention for "just two days" but declined to clarify the journalist's current status. "I can't say anything about this. I am not saying he was released. He is before the court, and I can't speak for the court," CPJ quoted Mballow as saying.

However, CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator, Mohamed Keita in New York said: "Journalists should be allowed to shine a light on court proceedings without fearing that their coverage will land them behind bars."
"Authorities should release Abdulhamid Adiamoh immediately," he added.

Adiamoh has several times in the past been detained by police in connection with his reporting, according to CPJ research.

On June 26, the pro-government daily, the Daily Observer newspaper reported that Abdulhamid Adiamoh has written a letter to Badou S.M. Conteh apologizing to him.

In the letter, Mr. Adiamoh said the rejoinder intends to express his unreserved apology on the article he’d written. 

“I sincerely regret the publication of this news analysis,” he said. “It was never intended to prejudice the court or be disrespectful to the authority of the court, presided over by His Worship, Principal Magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe, neither was it intended to malign or hold Lawyer Badou S.M. Conteh of Lords Chambers or anybody in contempt of any form whatsoever.”

Another released
In a separate case, another journalist, Mr. Lamin Njie, deputy editor-in-chief of the privately-owned tri-weekly newspaper, The Daily News, was released without charge by the Special Criminal Division of the High Court in Banjul on Monday June 25.

Mr. Njie was detained since Friday June 22 on allegations of contempt of court for “incorrectly reporting” that a high court judge had denied bail to four top officials of the Gambia Revenue Authority who are being tried on tax-related offenses. 

His newspaper had published an apology and correction earlier.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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