The Gambia’s National Intellegence Agency (NIA) on Wednesday morning invited and grilled five journalists of The Voice newspaper.
On July 1, the Editor-In-Chief of the privately-owned newspaper, Musa S. Sheriff and senior reporters Sulayman Ceesay, Amadou Bah, Bakary Ceesay and Mafugi Ceesay were interrogated between 11:30 and 1330GMT at the NIA offices in Banjul.
This latest assault comes weeks after senior reporter Mafugi Ceesay was arrested and detained for more than an hour for covering a political rally of the President, Yahya Jammeh last month.
State agents have taken photos and personal details of the journalists including family and residential details.
They also obtained information about the Company’s operation and financial records during an extensive screening process.
The journalists said they were also checked against being “treat to national security” – a vague term.
“We were ask to go back to our office and continue doing our normal work,” senior reporter Bah later wrote.
The NIA officers claim the interrogation is meant to build cordial relations between the government and the media, according to the journalists.
Government-media relationst has never been cordial and this so-called claim has left the journalists wondering what sort of cordial relations is built in such a manner.
In 2014, Sheriff and
freelance journalist Sainey MK Marenah were detained and put through a 10-month trial and freed of conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor and publication of false news – with intent to cause fear and alarm – over a political defections article.
FPI understands this latest move is one of the many intimidating tactics employed by the authorities against the last remaining independent journalists in the country.
“This is [a] systematic campaign to silence The Voice journalists, who are among the remaining critical media houses in the Gambia,” said exiled Gambian journalist Sainey MK Marenah.
“However, any attempt to intimidate journalists will only send a wrong signal that the government is anti-media,” added Marenah who had a spell with The Voice as a freelancer.