Musa Sheriff and Sainey Marenah
Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on The Gambian authorities to immediately release two journalists, Musa Sheriff and Sainey Marenah, who are being detained by the police on charges of ”giving false information to a public officer”.
“We call on authorities in The Gambia to release these colleagues,” said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Director. “Despite the New Year Day’s announcement by President Jammeh lifting the ban on The Standard newspaper and Teranga FM, we are still concerned by the threats on press freedom in The Gambia.”
In a statement made available Thursday, the IFJ said Sheriff and Marenah must be at liberty until the court hears their case and rules independently.
The IFJ said it had always raised concerns on freedom of expression and press freedom in The Gambia, and that these rights are guaranteed by the country’s Constitution.
According to The Gambia Press Union (GPU), Sheriff, who is the Editor-in-Chief of the privately-owned newspaper The Voice and a Banjul-based stringer for the Pan African News Agency (PANA), was picked up 13 Jan. at his office by four plain clothes officers of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
Sheriff was arrested in connection with a story titled “19 Green Youths Defect to UDP” published by the newspaper in its 9 Dec. 2013 edition. Freelance journalist Sainey M.K. Marenah, author of the story, was also arrested. Both are being detained by the police.
The “Green youths” are young supporters of the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC). UDP (United Democratic Party) is the main opposition party.
The APRC has denied the story, calling it ‘false information’, and a rejoinder it sent to the newspaper has since been published.
Meanwhile, the two journalists have been transferred from Sanyang Police Station, where they were detained for three days, to the capital, Banjul.
They were transferred on Wednesday morning and are being detained at the Banjul Police Headquarters. They are yet to be arraigned.