JOHANNESBURG – A Gambian journalist who contributes to The Associated Press was held by security officials Monday night, according to the Gambian Press Union.
Reporter Abdoulie John went to the National Intelligence Agency offices for questioning Monday afternoon but he was not released, said Lamin Jahateh of the press union, who had accompanied John to the security agency headquarters in the West African country's capital, Banjul.
Security officials later took John to his home and searched it Monday, according to Jahateh who spoke to family members. John remained in the custody of the security agents and had not returned home by night.
John, the editor of the website JoloffNews and a contributor to AP, was previously held overnight by security on Dec. 7 after he covered the release of Senegalese soldiers by a rebel group. AP had been invited to the event and assigned John to cover it. John said the Gambian president's photographer questioned his presence, and an argument ensued. Since that incident John has been questioned several times by the intelligence agency but he has not been charged with any crime.
"AP protests the latest detention of Abdoulie John," said John Daniszewski, AP's senior managing editor for international news, speaking from New York. "John was properly assigned to cover the story and he has answered the same questions several times. We do not understand why authorities continue to question him."
The International Federation of Journalists has "vigorously condemned the harassment" of John and called on Gambian government to stop trying to intimidate him.
Gambia is one of Africa's smallest and poorest countries with a population of about 1.8 million people. President Yahya Jammeh has ruled the country since he came to power in a coup in 1994. Human rights groups have accused the government of Gambia of carrying out arbitrary arrests, summary executions and torture in recent years.