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By Godfrey Olukya 15-1-2014

An international journalists’ body ‘Committe to protect journalists’
(CPJ)has requested Gambian authorities to release the two journalists
it has been holding since Monday.

According to Africa Press,CPJ has today requested Gambian authorities
to drop the charges against two journalists who have been held since
Monday on accusations of giving false information.

State security agents arrested Musa Sheriff, a Liberian citizen and
editor of the thrice-weekly independent newspaper The Voice, and
Sainey Marenah, a freelance journalist, and charged them under the
criminal code with “providing false information to a public officer,”
local journalists told CPJ. Police said they were acting on orders
from President Yahya Jammeh, news reports said.

If convicted under this charge, the journalists face five years in
jail and/or a fine of 50,000 dalasi (about US$1,515), according to
news reports. They have been denied bail.

Sheriff and Marenah were arrested in connection with a Voice story
that Marenah wrote, which was published in early December 2013 and
called “19 Green Youths Defect to UDP,” according to news reports. The
story discussed a claim by the opposition United Democratic Party
(UDP) that 19 youth supporters of President Jammeh, known as “Green
Youths,” had defected from the ruling political party and joined the
UDP.

The ruling party dismissed the claim as baseless, The Voice said in a
subsequent edition, according to news reports.

“The charges against Musa Sheriff and Sainey Marenah are a reminder
that the Gambian government is determined to stamp out criticism and
crush the independent press,” said Peter Nkanga, CPJ’s West Africa
consultant. “We call on authorities to withdraw all charges and
release the two journalists immediately.”

END

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