By Modou S. Joof
Gambian journalists’ leader Baboucarr Ceesay has been arrested and detained for the second time in six months on Friday, March 8, 2013 – this time, under gloomy circumstances, Front Page International (FPI) has gathered.
Mr Ceesay, a first vice president of The Gambia Press Union (GPU), was picked up on Friday around 1400GMT by plain clothed officials believed to be members of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), a source had told FPI.
It is not clear who is behind the arrest of the journalist, INTERPOL or the NIA, what is clear is that the manner he was arrested is gloomy, and his whereabouts is unknown at the moment, a senior journalist said of Mr Ceesay’s ordeal on Saturday.
However, according to International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), its affiliate, Gambia Press Union (GPU), said journalist Ceesay was arrested by the NIA, and no reason was given for his arrest.
Family sources said they were informed of Ceesay’s arrest shortly after he had left his house.
“A family member accompanied him to the highway and shortly after walking off, someone came running to inform us that Baboucarr Ceesay was picked up by four men – who have been seen around his home,” a family member said fighting back tears.
The IFJ, which represents more than 600, 000 journalists around the world, has called on the authorities in The Gambia to immediately release Baboucarr Ceesay.
“We call on authorities in The Gambia to release our colleague immediately and unconditionally. The Gambia must stop these never ending intimidations and harassments of journalists which have portrayed a very negative image for the country throughout the whole world,” IFJ Africa Director Gabriel Baglo said.
“Journalists in The Gambia must be allowed to exercise their right to freedom of expression and of the press as guaranteed by the country’s constitution and other international instruments that the country has signed and ratified, including the Africa Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights,” Baglo added.
Earlier media reports have it that two men attempted to abduct Babucarr Ceesay, who is also a stringer of the Nairobi-based Africa Review, an outlet of the Nations Media Group, on Wednesday 13, February around 1.00am after enquiries about his whereabouts by “suspected spies”.
In September 2012, Mr Ceesay with Abubacarr Saidykhan were arrested, detained, and charged by the Banjul-based Bureau of the International Police Agency, INTERPOL, for applying for a police permit to hold a peaceful demonstration against the August execution of nine death row prisoners.
Mr Saidykhan has since fled the country following reported death threats against him.