Opposition activist released after 9-day detention

Charged with broadcasting via Skype without license

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By SannaCamara

LasanaJobarteh, an opposition activist who got picked up from his homeby the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) nine days ago, has today joined his distressed family after being granted bail by the Bundung magistrates’ court.

Mr. Jobarteh’s arrest followed a two-day opposition rally held at Buffer Zone in LatriKundaSabiji, and Brikama, West Coast Region on Saturday, 14th and Sunday 15th December 2013 respectively. In the absences of local radio or television coverage of the events, these well-attended political rallies were covered live by some online Gambia radio transmitting via the internet.

However, shortly after his arrival at home from the Brikama meeting, Mr. Jobarteh was greeted by the presence of NIA operatives, who said he was being invited for “clarification”.

Speaking to Gambia Beat at his house at about 6pm Gambian time this evening, Mr. Jobarteh explained the circumstances of his arrest and detention:

United for change?

“I just arrived from the Brikama meeting at bout 9pm on Sunday, when I got approached by four agents, claiming to be from President’s Office, and seeking clarification on certain things. They asked that I go with them to their offices,” he said.

These rallies were held by the ‘Gambians United for Change’ alliance, comprisingthe opposition UDP, PPP and GMC parties. The Hamat Bah-led NRP, which was also part of the alliance wrote last week to withdraw from the alliance.

Spotted at the Buffer Zone,Brikama rallies

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Mr. Jobarteh, who is also a spokesperson for main opposition UDP, and was alsoreportedly chairing the two rallies, said he was detained overnightat the NIA after his pick-up and got interrogated the next morning.

Apparently, the NIA were cusrios about what I was doing during the said meetings. “They said I was spotted at the Buffer Zone and Brikama rallies and they wanted to know what I was doing during the said meetings. I cooperated and answered all their questions, at least the ones I was able to answer,” he further explained.

He said he was also handed a printout copy of a publication from the Freedom online newspaper, one of the media covering the events live. Most of the questions were based on that publication.

“I couldn’t answer much because the said publication was done while I was in their custody. They took statements from me,” Lasana, fondly called ‘Jobs’ by family and friends, explained.

‘Broadcasting via Skype without license using and iPad

However, his case was transferred to Banjul Police for prosecution, on the charge of ‘broadcasting via Skype without license using and iPad’. Mr. Jobarteh’s case was later transferred toBundung Court house this morning where he was granted bail.

He said his detention conditions were “normal” – three meals a day, sleeping on the floor, alone I mosquito infested cell. He maintains tat he was not tortured. 

He should appear in court o the 31st December 2013.

 

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