"Chief" Ebrima Manneh, Daily Observer
Charge:No Charge
Imprisoned:July 7, 2006

Two plainclothes officers of the National Intelligence Agency arrested Manneh at the office of his newspaper, the pro-government Daily Observer, according to witnesses. The reason for the arrest was unclear, although some colleagues believe it was linked to his attempt to republish a BBC article critical of President Yahya Jammeh.

Despite dozens of inquiries from international organizations, the government has not provided a credible account of what happened to Manneh after he was taken into custody. In 2008, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ruled that Gambia had unlawfully seized Manneh and ordered his immediate release.

Sketchy and conflicting details have emerged about Manneh's whereabouts, health, and legal status. Witnesses reported seeing Manneh in government custody in December 2006 and in July 2007, according to CPJ research. Agence France-Presse quoted an unnamed police official in 2009 as saying that Manneh had been spotted at Mile 2 Prison in 2008. But the official also speculated that Manneh was no longer alive, AFP reported.

In a nationally televised meeting with local media representatives in March 2011, Jammeh described Manneh as having died, but denied any government involvement in the journalist's fate. "Let me make it very clear that the government has nothing to do with the death of Chief Manneh," he said.

But Justice Minister Edward Gomez provided contradictory information just months later. In an October 2011 interview with the local newspaper Daily News, Gomez said that Manneh was alive. "Chief Ebrima Manneh is alive, and we will talk about this case later," Gomez told AFP in a subsequent interview.

In February 2012, Reuters reported that Jammeh had asked the United Nations to investigate Manneh's disappearance. "In response to civil society complaints about the disappearance of a journalist in the Gambia, the president of Gambia asked for the U.N. to come in and investigate," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said, according to Reuters. In a subsequent interview with CPJ, a government spokesman denied having any knowledge of the request to the U.N.

On June 10, 2014, the ECOWAS court held that previous rulings against the Gambia, including Manneh's case, proved the Gambian government was fostering a climate of impunity which in itself was a violation of freedom of expression.

Gambian authorities have not responded to CPJ's inquiries about Manneh's whereabouts, health, or legal status.

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