Nigerian media workers freed in Gambia

Banjul - Authorities in Gambia have released two Nigerian journalists arrested at the weekend after they launched a newspaper in the tiny West African country.

Sam Obi, owner of The Daily Express and correspondent for the English service of Radio France International, was picked up with his colleague Abdou Gafar, in a media crackdown ahead of September presidential elections.

"They were released on bail yesterday evening after 72 hours of detention," said Madi Ceesay, the president of the Gambia Press Union, on Wednesday.

"But they have been asked to report to the NIA (National Intelligence Agency) offices today, taking with them the official registration certificate of the newspaper," he added.

Ceesay said the two were arrested in connection with an article the paper carried in its first edition after Gambia banned a forum on press freedom which was slated for Banjul ahead of the African Union summit held early July.

A coalition of 16 media rights organisations slammed the ban in a statement reproduced by Obi's paper.

Often denounced by international media watchdogs for its heavy handedness on the media, Gambia has arrested several in recent months after an alleged coup attempt in March and in the run up to September elections.

Only one has been charged and is awaiting trial.

Several others have been picked up by the security authorities this year on suspicion of writing for an online publication run by a Gambian journalist living in exile in the United States. - Sapa-AFP

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