Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said he wanted to focus his colleagues' attention on a tragic story in a small West African nation. Chief Ebrima Manneh is a reporter in the Gambia for the state-controlled Daily Observer newspaper. He was arrested by two plainclothes officers from the country's National Intelligence Agency at the newspaper's office building in July 2006. Why? He tried to republish in the Daily Observer a BBC report critical of President Yahya Jammeh, local journalists and the Gambian press union told CPJ at the time.
As far as anyone knows, Manneh was never charged with a crime. Gambian authorities have refused to provide information on the journalist's whereabouts, health and legal status. In a 2007 interview with CPJ, then government communications secretary Neneh Macdouall-Gaye denied that Manneh was in government custody.
But local journalists reported that Manneh was seen under armed guard at the Royal Victorian Teaching Hospital in July 2007 in Banjul, and again that September in the far eastern Fatoto Prison.