Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2010

The Gambia: 1

"Chief" Ebrima Manneh, Daily Observer
Imprisoned: July 7, 2006

Agents of the National Intelligence Agency picked up Manneh, a reporter with the government-controlled Daily Observer, after he tried to print a BBC story critical of President Yahya Jammeh. Colleagues witnessed his arrest by two plainclothes officers at the premises of the Daily Observer.

Manneh has been seen but a few times since his arrest. A fellow journalist reported seeing him on the grounds of Fatoto Prison in late 2006. The next year, witnesses told the Ghana-based press freedom group Media Foundation of West Africa that Manneh was being treated for high blood pressure at the Royal Victorian Teaching Hospital in Banjul.

Despite the sightings, Gambian security agencies and police have consistently refused to provide information on the journalist's whereabouts, health, or legal status. In its periodic review submission to the U.N. Human Rights Council in February 2010, a Gambian delegation led by Attorney General and Minister of Justice Marie Saine-Firdaus declared that "the government has investigated his whereabouts, but to no avail."

The case has galvanized a variety of forces to pressure the Gambian government. In March 2010, U.S. Sen. Richard J. Durbin and four other senators sent a letter to Kamalesh Sharma, secretary-general of the Commonwealth of Nations, urging him to investigate Manneh's case. In 2009, the U.N. Human Rights Council's Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions called for Manneh's release.

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