New York, June 23, 2009--A Gambian reporter arrested
on Monday while covering a pre-trial hearing in the sedition
of seven journalists jailed last week, was still being held without
charge late today, according to local journalists and news reports.
Augustine Kanjia of
the private daily The Point was being
held at a police station in Serrekunda,
largest city, according to defense
lawyer Assan Martin.
security agent whisked away the reporter on Monday after seizing his camera, Point Deputy News Editor Abba Jibba told
CPJ. Kanjia was among dozens of journalists, including a camera crew from
Radio and Television Service, who
had gathered outside a packed magistrate court in the Kanifing suburb of
Serrekunda, according to local
"This arrest, in the
wake of last week's imprisonment of seven senior Gambian journalists,
highlights a long-standing pattern of criminalization and intimidation of
independent journalism," said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. "We call on authorities to release Augustine
Kanjia, a Sierra Leone
native who fled during that country's civil war, joined The Point in
1994, according to Jibba.
The journalists charged
with sedition had criticized President Yahya Jammeh for what they saw as
about the unsolved 2004 murder of Point Editor Deyda Hydara.
Since 2001, at least
10 journalists have fled
persecution and abuse
in the Gambia,
one of the world's worst backsliders on press
freedom, according to CPJ research.